Opportunity is defined as the full set of pathways available to a person, where an individual can access resources to move him or her along these set of pathways. However, these sets of pathways are not always readily accessible or attainable due to the different types of social, cultural, and economic barriers in our society. Additionally, opportunity is inherently spatial in nature. Where we live determines our upward social mobility. Thus, the opportunity mapping methodology uses geospatial analyses and techniques to illuminate the ways in which structures and institutions promote or restrict access to opportunity based on their "situatedness."
Initially, the opportunity mapping project, also known as geography of opportunity or opportunity mapping 1.0 methodology, was developed in 2005 at the Kirwan Institute, under the leadership of john powell. Since then, the Othering & Belonging Institute has been refining this methodology to develop a measure that can better reflect the distribution of opportunity across space. Our model identifies indicators which are research based and represent neighborhood conditions, and develops measures which can transform data to represent opportunity. These indicators are assigned to a set of domains, such as Education, Economics and Health, which capture the extent of an individual’s life outcomes, quality of life, and capabilities. These domains and indicators allow us to make abstract and subjective phenomena into simple and objective measurements, which enables us to quantify opportunity. A set of baseline filters ensures that lower opportunity tracts are objectively delineated.
This comprehensive approach offers policymakers, stakeholders, and researchers a quantifiable measure of opportunity to direct public and private investments, and a strong visual that displays the regional pattern of distribution of opportunity. This approach has many innovative applications in the areas of Education and Fair Housing, to name a few. Our opportunity mapping 2.0 methodology has recently been applied to assist California's Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC) and Housing and Community Development (HCD) with improved siting of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties. Details of this project can be found under our Fair Housing Research Initiative webpage.
We are in the process of developing a web mapping application to allow users to interact with our Opportunity Mapping data, and to make this data available to communities, social justice advocates, researchers, policy makers and funders. Below is a quick preview of what we are developing, however the data and methodology in this application is under revision and not a true reflection of opportunity distribution in the California Bay Area.