GIS & Mapping

aamai_tracts1011_aam_suspensionOur team are experts in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help model, understand and investigate social issues. We use ESRI software primarily as well as many open source platforms.

We offer comprehensive services ranging from data management, acquisition and processing, spatial analysis, data visualization and graphic design. We can work with you to shape your project even if you’ve never done a mapping project before and can help you from problem statements right through to high-resolution, large-scale print or digital delivery.

Map Making

We are widely regarded as a trusted partner that understands our clients’ needs and crafts beautiful maps that communicate to a wide audience. We work with you to understand your end goals: Where does our map product fit in your planning and action efforts?  How do you plan to use the products we design for you?

By considering the various ways data can be communicated, we build maps that make your data’s messages pop and your context clear.  We consider other data mediums in addition to the map and provide graphics and data tables to ensure that your map users are empowered, not  blinded by detail.

Client: East Bay Asian Youth Center


One of our long term partners was looking to expand their operations into two new counties; EBAYC approached us to help them through their planning phase and we laid out a plan to get them the tools and information they would need for their process. We determined that they would need very disaggregated data on the various Asian populations and large scale printed maps as the ideal setting for their group planning process was an in-person setting with dozens of people. We prefer digital delivery for most projects these days but large paper maps still play an important role in community planning.


We wanted to let the planning teams see the significant variations that existed in the distribution of the major South Asian ethnic groups in Sacramento, Fresno and Alameda Counties, so instead of producing many maps that would crowd a table or wall, we produced a single large map of each county with the main population data as a thematic map along with a four-panel map featuring the population distribution of the major ethic groups.

Because we wanted to help the groups to identify new site locations in areas with the best proximity to major South Asian populations, we calculated the census tracts with more than a quarter of their population being Asian, and then a segment of neighborhoods with between 16% and 25% Asian. This way we didn’t just highlight from light to dark colors showing the proportion of Asians (the most common approach), we were able to help the group really narrow in to highly concentrated communities.

During in our planning meeting the groups were able to connect their local knowledge of the communities they work with, other relevant facilities that would be competing or compatible and create a new layer of information that helped in the process.   We love to gather local data and refine products so they don’t just rely on administrative data! This feedback was added to the final products to help the ongoing planning efforts.

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Interactive Maps & Web Tools

While paper maps or static PDF documents meet many client’s needs, an interactive web map can serve many more purposes for your organization- and we can help!

Our team has expertise in most modern web mapping system and can custom build a web map for most use cases; from a simple Google Earth map through to a complex, multi-layer map built with Leaflet, MapBox and GeoJSON data or even a web based map built with new maps as a service tech like CartoDB.

We can build tools for you using ESRI’s ArcGIS Server if you need that technology for your project too.

Client: Great Oakland Public Schools


The Oakland Achieves Coalition has been producing school progress reports on Oakland’s public schools. While these visual reports are informative, there was a lot of detailed outcome data that could not be communicated effectively in a printed or PDF report, so they engaged us to create a tool that would let parents and educators understand how outcomes vary by ethnicity and disadvantaged status in Oakland schools.

We developed an open source web app that lets viewers easily see test scores at their schools, compare them with other schools and the district and easily get the citywide data for all measures we included. The tool is mobile friendly and and features a clean, responsive design.

apimapsThe project can be seen here.


Data Services

When it comes to helping you transform your data into a story, we care as much about the rigor of how we handle your data as we do about the final product. We manage sensitive data for many government agencies and conduct dozens of research analyses using spatial data every year. We carefully manage your data in a secure environment and can add to your project from our vast collection of public and private data sources.

We’re nationally recognized as a trusted data custodian and manage many sensitive client datasets with no breaches in 28 years. If you need data that are locked up in public websites we can build scrapers to acquire those data too. If you are starting with just an Excel file of addresses and info, we can make those into something really powerful.

We have extensive experience with local government data as well as with nonprofit and philanthropic organizations’ data. We’re also able to help you plan and manage community mapping projects.

 tn_ca1_2010q4_property_densityAnalysis & Modelling

Our team brings a diverse set of analytical skills to your project. We use a wide array of statistical analysis and tech tools to carry out our applied research projects. Our team has expertise in the areas of health, public safety, violence prevention, reentry, housing, urban development, social services, education and more. Our team likely knows a lot about the work you have in mind and we’re fast learners if we don’t.

We can build powerful statistical models, create network models for transit planning, help you understand access to services issues and prepare data profiles you can really understand. We know the East Bay well and bring a strong understanding of local context to your work.


While we provide a reliable mapping and spatial analysis service to our clients, we often find that an organization desires to have at least moderate internal capacity to do mapping work. In that case, we are happy to develop a customized training program for your staff, using a mix of existing materials from vendors and our own tailored materials made just for your work style.

Client: City of Oakland


The City was convening base-building groups, advocates, nonprofits and businesses to plan for a large development down the length of International Blvd. A rapid bus transit line is planned for this corridor and the City of Oakland wanted detailed maps and data to support the community planning process.


We understand how important is that the stakeholders and community have a voice in stating what is needed, so we surveyed and interviewed leaders of various workgroups to understand their needs- both the data they wanted and what they wished to use it for. We then prioritized the maps and tools we could build in their budget and agreed on a timeline. We needed to uncover much of these data form the City and County as many were never made public. We prepared large scale maps for community meetings and used some innovative methods to communicate these new data in a way that community members could absorb.

The final maps were delivered in digital and hard copy formats. Our work now is focused on moving projects like these to a digital delivery platform — dynamic web maps that residents and business owners can investigate online.

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Interested in working with us? Send us a consulting inquiry here.