Data You Can Use, in collaboration with the Community Development Alliance, is pleased to release this first round of indicator maps for Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. These indicators are intended to help community members, planners, policy makers, and neighborhood organizations to plan, document and explore key pieces of information about their neighborhoods. The indicators have been chosen based on a review of best practice, their importance, and interest to users. Selection followed some defined principles. ( Indicator Principles)

In 2013, the city released a map stemming from a market value analysis and including indicators of important market conditions. This project builds on that work but expands beyond physical structures to include other important aspects of a neighborhood. Here we release initial population indicators and measures of equity and access ( MKE Indicators - Status). This is a work in progress and will be expanded to include interactive maps. and additional categories.

Let us know what you think!

We value your opinion. If you have questions or suggestions about the MKE Indicators project, please contact us at [email protected]

  • Data You Can Use will offer a series of data workshops using a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the maps and data of the MKE Indicators.  Participants will be able to interact with the maps and data in a way that is user-friendly, informative, and practical. Workshops are designed for beginner/intermediate data users and will feature a supportive hands-on learning approach. Participants will build an understanding of the data and how it can be used to guide their own neighborhood strategies. A certificate of completion will be given to users who complete all four workshops. To learn more about these workshops, please email us at: [email protected]org            



WHY are these indicators important?

Overall population growth and decline: Population change is an important indicator of neighborhood change because people’s movement in and out of communities indicates their interest and satisfaction with an area.  This indicator is also important because policies and strategies should be influenced by the amount of change.

Growth and decline of children and youth:  Changes in the population of children and youth are important in planning for services, schools, and business. Decisions about where to raise children are informed by many factors, including school quality and public safety. The extent to which an area’s population consists of households with children can be an indicator of how basic services are managed and delivered.   Age distribution of a population provides clues about an area’s future.

Racial and ethnic make-up of the population: These indicators can show areas where segments of the population are clustered and can inform market strategies, service delivery, and plans for equitable development. The collection of data by race and ethnicity is important for programming, policy and planning. Without valid knowledge of race and ethnicity, analysts and planners lack critical information about the populations they aim to serve. This information is also needed to help identify, monitor and address the existence of disparities.

Population: The Data Behind the Maps

 Equity & Access

WHY are these indicators important?

Access to basic needs:  People need to fulfill their most basic needs (food, water, clothing, shelter, etc.) in order to reach their full human potential. Often times this depends on their ability to purchase basic necessities for themselves and families.

Access to quality schools:  Access to quality education keeps children and youth supported and motivated. It is a predictor of future success in life. It is also a driving force in the economic development of an area.

Access to employment: Good public transportation generally costs less than driving but most people drive to work and most prefer a shorter commute which means less time sitting in the car, less money spent on gas and maintenance, and more time with family and friends.  Areas where the commute is long can indicate the lack of basic services.

Civic/community Engagement: Voting is one of the simplest and easiest ways to be involved in the community. People who vote in national elections are more likely to also be politically informed and active on a local level. Low participation rates may also reflect voting barriers.

Mix of people across multiple groups: This indicator measures the degree to which a community contains a mix of people across different groups and offers opportunities to residents of all ages, races and backgrounds. It is important to the overall livability of an area.

Historic disadvantage: Areas that have suffered decades of depressed home values due to redlining, government policy, and racism face greater challenges in overcoming segregation and social isolation. Identifying and acknowledging these areas can help residents and policy makers to target strategies to mitigate the damage and rebuild neighborhoods.

Equity & Access: The Data Behind the Maps

 Market Value

WHY are these indicators important?

Vacancy rate: This is an indicator of housing demand. High vacancy rates may point to a housing market in distress. Low vacancy rates are a sign that market conditions for business are good.

Residential sales: Median sales prices of homes in an area can provide clues about the health of the market in an area.  They can also help identify opportunities and changing neighborhoods.

Homeownership:  High rates of homeownership can be an indicator of neighborhood stability as homeowners are likely to stay and invest in the places where they own homes. Low home ownership rates combined with high percentages of rent burden can indicate a community that is struggling to provide opportunities for residents.

New housing construction and major rehabs: High rates of new investment can indicate growth and prosperity due to increased interest in development of an area. Low rates of new investment suggest a slowly growing or deteriorating market.

Foreclosures: Foreclosure rates can provide information on property values and housing quality in an area. High rates of foreclosures reduce home prices and suggest housing insecurity. Low rates of foreclosures indicate a healthier housing market.

Market Value: The Data Behind the Maps


WHY are these indicators important?

Housing Units Built Prior to 1950: Homes build prior to 1950 have a higher likelihood of containing lead-based paint, which is very harmful to children’s growth and development. Areas with higher numbers of homes built prior to 1950 have an increased risk of being exposed to lead.

Asthma: Asthma is an indicator of indoor and outdoor pollution. High rates of pollutants, tobacco smoke, and mold yield higher asthma rates. Low rates of asthma may be an indicator of better air quality with lower levels of traffic pollution, indoor pollutants, etc.

Obesity: Obesity increases the odds of developing certain negative health effects such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and hypertension. High rates of obesity in an area may indicate a less healthy population, while low rates of obesity may indicate a healthier population with a lower risk of additional adverse health effects.

Mental Health: Mental health is an important indicator for stress levels and functional ability. High rates of poor mental health may result in lower productivity in an area, as well as human suffering. Low rates of poor mental health tend to yield lower rates of stress and higher productivity.

Visits to Dentist or Dental Clinic: Increased visits to the dentist or dental clinic indicate a higher investment in health and wellbeing due to the increased costs of oral health care. Attending regular dental check-ups leads to better oral health by providing an opportunity for clinical preventive services and early detection of oral diseases. Lower rates of dentist or dental clinic visits has been associated with poor oral health, which is linked to heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and more.  Poor oral health may have additional negative health side effects such as affecting the way in which individuals perform in school/work, eat, speak, and feel about their appearance.

Health: The Data Behind the Maps

  • Housing Units Built Prior to 1950Percent of housing units built prior to 1950
  • AsthmaAsthma prevalence* among adults ages 18 and over
  • ObesityObesity prevalence* among adults ages 18 and over
  • Mental HealthPrevalence* of adults ages 18 and over who reported mental
    health was not good for 14 or more days
  • Visits to Dentist or Dental ClinicPrevalence* of adults ages 18 and over who reported visiting a
    dentist or dental clinic in the last year
  • A note about the data: For the 500 Cities Data, the Center for Disease Control used a multi-level statistical modeling technique to produce small area estimations (SAE). Small area estimations use supplemental data when the sample size of a  small geographical area is too small to generate accurate estimates. Specifically, CDC used a peer-reviewed multi-level regression and postratification (MRP) approach that links geo-coded health surveys and high spatial resolution population demographic and socioeconomic data. Additional information about the methodology can be found on the website

Link to Data Dictionary and FAQs