How to Use the Location Opportunity Footprint Tool

The SparkMap Location Opportunity Footprint Tool (“LOFT”) identifies areas where opportunities exist by finding neighborhoods with proficient schools, job opportunities, and low housing and transportation costs. The underlying data used in this tool are from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Location Affordability Index Program (Version 3.0) and the HUD School Proficiency Index.

Access the LOFT

Use the LOFT

Overlay Other Map Layers

Generate Demographic Report

Step 1 – Access the Location Opportunity Footprint Tool

Open the Map Room.

Navigate to a location of interest by zooming into the map, or searching for the location.

Navigate to Tools on the right hand menu and select “Location Opportunity Footprint Tool” (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Location Opportunity Footprint Tool in the Map Room Tools pane

Looking to create a ZIP code-level community needs assessment? You can do so with a Premium Annual Subscription. Already a Premium Annual Subscriber? Check out our tutorial, How to Build A ZIP Code-Level Community Needs Assessment.

Step 2 – Use the LOFT

Once you’ve opened the Tool, the map will populate with colors representing different thresholds (Figure 2). Areas where multiple thresholds are exceeded are highlighted in purple.

Figure 2: Birmingham, AL, with the Location Opportunity Footprint enabled
  • Light purple ( ) represents areas that meet 2 of the 3 criteria
  • Dark purple ( ) represents areas that meet all 3 criteria

The indicators used in this tool determine levels of opportunity in three areas:

  • School Proficiency Index Score
  • Job Gravity Score
  • Monthly Cost of Housing and Transportation for Family at 50% AMI

Once you’ve loaded the LOFT, adjust the indicator threshold values using the sliders (Figure 3). The map will dynamically populate areas affected by the updated thresholds.

This tool allows users to adjust for spatial variation and relative importance of the three opportunity factors. For example, to prioritize the proficiency of schools, slide the first meter to a higher value. To prioritize affordability, slide the last meter to a lower value.

Figure 3: Location of indicator threshold sliders

We recommend that you adjust these thresholds based on the unique conditions of the area you are examining.

Step 3 – Overlay Other Map Layers

You can easily map other data with this tool. Click the “Add Data” tab at the top left to start adding layers to your map.

Figure 4: SNAP-Authorized Retailers data added to LOFT data for Birmingham, AL

For our example here, we chose SNAP-Authorized Retailers – the SNAP layer and the LOFT are now both visible on our map (Figure 4). Using additional data can help provide a more robust assessment of opportunities in your area of interest.

Step 4 – Generate a Demographic Report

The Location Opportunity Footprint Tool also includes a handy Quick Report that summarizes demographic information as well as additional population data.

In the Footprint Map Layer pane, scroll down to access the “Generate Quick Report” button (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Button location to generate Quick Report

This report contains the generated map, legend, basic demographic information, race/ethnicity breakouts, gender/age breakouts, and more detail about the vulnerable populations.

You can continue to add additional layers, save, export, or share your map. For more information on how to use the Map Room, explore our other support materials.