What We Do

MISSION: The Polis Center works with our partners to define, measure, and actively improve community health, well-being, and resiliency.

Our motto is “We bring things into perspective.” Our primary service is to build understanding of issues from a variety of perspectives. We help others create a vision of the common good and realize their vision with practical tools and methods. We have experience in community health and development, religion, government, social services, information management, and arts and culture. We have a unique capability in managing large complex projects involving numerous participating organizations, and in gathering, organizing, and analyzing data collected from multiple sources.

Our strengths are in community and place-based research, analysis, collaborations, and advanced information technologies. Working in partnership with other organizations, we address issues of mutual concern. With our network of relationships, we can bring together disparate groups and interests to find common ground. Our focus areas include population health, community information, and disaster planning.

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COMMUNITY INFORMATICS: We create community intelligence to support the decision-making process with and for nonprofits, community based organizations, and government. We build solutions that are grounded in data, research, and community process. Our work includes building community information systems and decision support tools; transforming data to extend its utility; developing and analyzing community data to understand social issues and how they impact communities; bringing academic research to practical applications; fostering data literacy; and building capacity in others to use information for decision-making.

HEALTH GEOINFORMATICS: Our work with the health sector advances community health and supports the growing discipline of population health management. We combine and analyze clinical, social, and environmental data, and create assessment and decision-making tools. In our collaboration with the public health and healthcare sectors, we curate an extensive collection of data sets on the social determinants of community health and resilience.

GEOINFORMATICS:  We perform an important function in assessing different types of vulnerabilities and needs for local, state, tribal and federal government; the private sector; and nonprofits. We reinforce community efforts to prevent or reduce losses from natural disasters by combining geospatial analysis, modeling, and outreach activities. Our disaster (or crisis) informatics initiatives support disaster preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery activities. We design and develop open source as well as Esri technology-driven information systems through which to explore the interconnectedness of people, place, community, information, and technology. We also create and implement research to assess the physical, social and economic impacts of hazards.

EDUCATION:  We develop and support standardized as well as customized training and education in the geographic information systems tools and methods that support disaster risk assessment and mitigation planning. The Polis Education program has delivered workshops, presentations and related services in more than 100 cities in 40 states and multiple countries since its inception.

SPATIAL HUMANITIES: We serve an international community of humanities scholars interested in applying geospatial technologies to the disciplines with in the humanities to explore new questions about the relationship of space to human behavior and social, economic, political, and cultural development.