Over the years there have been discussions about innovation, community and accessibility – but what do these words mean? Building a more accessible community is not a one-off task; it is a process that affects all aspects of development. And, as cities continue to grow in size, we need to think about how they are built and for whom they are designed.
Increasing access means creating an environment that can be used by the whole community and everyone who is part of it. When we talk about accessibility, people often only think of making a space wheelchair accessible. True accessibility, however, means thinking about many different aspects of life that make a community more liveable for people with disabilities.
Hopeworks, a social impact organization located in Camden, New Jersey, has a GIS team that provides critical GIS mapping and data management services to improve organizational efficiency, deploy valuable resources, and enable decision making. driven by data with the overall goal of making the community more accessible. . Additionally, the Hopeworks GIS program offers more than twenty youth internship opportunities – overall, providing life-changing opportunities for these young professionals to develop their technology skills to help them build a strong future. wealth in their communities.
Creating a more accessible community means creating a city where everyone can have access to everything, regardless of their disability. Making these communities more accessible can benefit everyone who lives in and visits this city. Hopeworks is partnering with different organizations across the country, such as New Jersey American Water, Comcast NBCUniversal, Merchantville Pennsauken Water Commission, and Pinelands Preservation Alliance, to test the data they’ve already generated to see where improvements are needed. then provide recommendations and resources on how to implement these solutions in the community.
Pinelands Preservation Alliance Map
For example, Camden – where Hopeworks is based and where many of our interns and their families reside – suffers from a serious food accessibility problem. Our team worked with the City of Camden to solve this problem by mapping the locations of grocery stores, supermarkets, bodegas and convenience stores in Camden that anyone can use, and then realized that Camden was in serious need of fresh food and nutritious.
Our GIS program is a regionally and nationally recognized service for the quality of work delivered by our team and has received numerous accolades for our outstanding work using GIS technology, including the Special Achievement in GIS award at the Esri User Conference in San Diego. In programs like this and others, our organization is able to impact communities to improve their current situation, while also having a social impact and helping young professionals build their future. We provide training and resources to young people in Camden in the skills of the growing tech industry that help participants graduate and encourage program participants to further their education.
No one thought that a non-profit organization based in Camden would work with young people and prove to large organizations that the quality of work delivered by these young professionals has an impact on their community. The SIG team has seen success over the years and we have been able to expand our services to more organizations across the country to help them create a more accessible community for everyone.