Every day, a highly choreographed dance takes place across Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley when thousands of workers leave home and travel to work by car, foot, bus, and bike. While anyone who has driven through midtown Anchorage at 7:45 a.m. develops a sense where workers concentrate, we wanted to uncover signals in the geography of Anchorage’s economy that may not be visible to the casual (or agitated) observer of the daily commute.
As we continue our research to develop an understanding of opportunities, transportation has risen as a central challenge for residents finding work. As part of our data-driven approach Data Analyst, Ben Matheson, developed our own version of an interactive map from Datamade and Data Science for Social Good focusing on Chicago (thanks to Hunter Owens in LA for suggesting the resource). Our map will help us explore these patterns of commuting by visualizing Census data of where people work and live.
We used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s (Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics LODES Origin-Destination Employment Statistics) outlining where people live and work across America on a census block-by-block basis. By clicking on a census tract, you can see both the inflow of workers who work in neighborhoods as well as the daily outflow of people from their home census tracts across Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley. If you hover over the yellow tract, you can see the number of people who live and work in that tract.
As expected, we see the major business districts of downtown, Midtown, and U-Med drawing widely from across the city. The U-Med district, which includes the University of Alaska Anchorage, Providence Medical Center, and the Alaska Native Medical Campus brings in people from all corners of the municipality, with an emphasis on south Anchorage residents.
But neighborhood patterns are clear as well. Muldoon’s diverse retail economy has a distinctly East Anchorage workforce:
Not only can we see where business districts draw their employees from, we can use the same dataset to explore where the residents of specific neighborhoods commute each day. Wasilla residents work across the valley, but thousands make the trip down the Glenn Highway each day:
The Anchorage i-team is conducting research and developing stakeholder relationships to find targeted ways to help the municipality most efficiently and effectively serve Anchorage residents. But knowing where and how to strategically direct efforts is not obvious. By taking a data-driven approach and building the right partnerships from the ground-up, we think we can help make Anchorage a better place to live and work.
You can explore the map here.
Launched in 2017, the Anchorage i-team is focusing on community problems related to economic opportunities, cost of living, and access to services in the Mountain View, Muldoon, and Spenard neighborhoods. We are part of a network of 25 Innovation Teams around the world funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Have a suggestion or feedback? Contact us at AncInnovation@muni.org