Opportunity mapping

fiscal policies working together

Source: Kirwan Institute

Opportunity mapping is a research tool used to understand the dynamics of “opportunity” within a region. Neighborhood conditions and proximity to opportunities (such as high performing education or sustainable employment) have a critical impact on quality of life and self advancement. Opportunity maps are used to assess geographic distribution of these resources and opportunities across a region – and present this information in a way that facilitates informed, affirmative interventions. In order to direct investment into under-resourced and struggling areas – and in order to proactively connect affordable housing to high quality jobs, education, healthcare, and services – we need to be able to quantitatively model opportunities throughout our region.

“Opportunity” is a purposely broad concept, and one that must be customized according to the needs and priorities of Clackamas County to have the greatest impact. As a result, selecting a list of the key “indicators” of access to opportunity – and the most representative data sources for those indicators – was a critical first step in the mapping process. The following table provides a list of the key proximity-based indicators that were used to create opportunity maps in the following five categories: (1) Education; (2) Economic; (3) Transportation; (4) Health Care; and (5) Neighborhood Quality:

  • Education: ODE Report cards, Proximity to Schools and Adult Education Opportunities
  • Economic: Employment Density and High-wage industry clusters
  • Transportation: Proximity to light rail, bus service, and bike lanes
  • Health Care: Proximity to Hospitals, Primary Care Providers, and other clinics accepting Oregon Health Plan
  • Neighborhood Quality: Proximity to parks, healthy food sources, and other community resources

Primary Roles of Advisory Committee in Opportunity Mapping Process

  • Set policy priorities and help identify key indicators and data sources
  • Help identify potential uses for maps in planning process
  • Provide feedback on initial map results and identify issues for fine tuning


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