A Year in Review: Looking Back & Gazing Ahead

January 7, 2022
Written by: Shaye Morrison

Looking back at 2021, data was at the forefront of media headlines, policy decisions, and even conversations with family and friends. COVID-19 continued to evolve, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed, and COP26 intensified focus on climate change. These are just a few examples of how reliable and accurate data were essential to many facets of life in 2021. Through it all, we are grateful to you, our customers, who trust us to deliver the highest quality data to inform your projects and communities!  

Here are just a few of the amazing things you did with SparkMap in 2021!

19,000 Maps created!

Some of the most popular layers included the Vulnerable Populations Footprint, COVID-19 Vulnerability Footprint, and Population Density which means many of the maps you made focused on people. With these maps, you visualized the percentage of population below poverty level, graduation rates, insurance status, and had a particular interest in people over the age of 65. We hope these maps helped inform others on community vulnerability and lay the foundation for change! 

63,000 Community Assessments created!

Your most popular indicators fell into the categories of health outcomes, demographics, and social and economic factors. Your Community Assessments included information on health conditions like cancer and mental health, demographics like population change and ethnicity, and social factors like SNAP benefits, violent crime, and racial segregation. These assessments highlight the ways you want to understand and improve your communities. We can’t wait to see your continued progress in 2022! 

Enhanced customer support!

To help optimize your use of SparkMap from the very beginning, we unveiled our SparkMap 101 Blog Series dedicated to choosing the best tool for your needs and mastering its use. We also enhanced our support page to help you find answers as quickly as possible. If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to visit it now. We heard your needs, and implemented these changes to better serve you! If there are any features, support materials, or information we can provide this year please contact us.

Let’s look ahead to what SparkMap has planned for 2022!

American Community Survey!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Census Bureau is delaying release of the American Community Survey. Originally scheduled to be released in December 2021, the Census Bureau has provided a new estimated release date of March 2022. If the March 2022 date holds firm, the CARES team will begin refining, benchmarking, and loading it into our map rooms and assessments in May or June. Watch our data news for updates from the Census Bureau and the CARES data team.

Updated Map Room!

This year, our Map Room is getting a facelift. We’ve been working on this for a while now and are so excited for you to see it. What are some things you can expect? First, we have been working on increasing mobile optimization of our maps so they’re just as visually appealing and user friendly on your phones and tablets as they are on your desktops. We’re also planning to unveil a brand new more streamlined mapping interface. We can’t wait to see all the maps you’ll create in the new Map Room! 

New Data!

As you know, our team is regularly updating our data to stay up-to-date with releases and corrections! Just last week, we added data from the latest BRFSS PLACES dataset, providing estimates on population health behaviors and conditions from the year 2019. This is extra exciting because these data are available for counties, ZIP codes, cities, and census tracts across the United States! Moreover, we will also be updating FCC Broadband data and maps as the year progresses, which we hope meet your infrastructure planning needs. Lastly, we are continuing to gather and update COVID-19 data. Be sure to closely monitor our COVID-19 resources for the timeliest tools. 

In 2021, you kept data at the forefront of community impact. We can’t wait to see what you do in 2022!