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The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
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Community Equity Index Analysis and Explorer

The Community Equity Index (CEI) is a composite measure of equity-related indicators that helps users understand socio-economic conditions that drive advantage and disadvantage across the county. It measures the extent to which individual neighborhoods are representative of the socio-economic diversity of the county.

Developed as part of the department’s Equity Agenda for Planning, this project recognizes that it is not enough to document county-level inequity; planners must document and analyze conditions at smaller geographies to understand how the individual parts are summing up to the whole. The indicators used to derive the index were chosen based on their current and historical relevance for equity analysis and the availability of reliable, accurate, regularly collected, and publicly available data at census tract-level geographies (which serve as a proxy for neighborhoods).

The previous Equity Focus Area (EFA) analysis identified tracts that were highly disadvantaged due to lower income, higher percentage people of color, and lower English proficiency. The CEI expands on this work, compiling additional demographic data and dividing it in a way that lets users see the full spectrum of neighborhoods from advantaged to disadvantaged based on population characteristics including income, education, housing tenure, poverty rate, and English language proficiency.

After much research and discussion, race and ethnicity were excluded from the index to focus on variables that are changeable over a person’s life course and can be influenced with policy. The department recognizes that as a legacy of racial discrimination supported by government land use policies, there are disparities in where people of different races live in the county. A separate analysis within the Explorer’s interface provides a detailed analysis of the intersection between race and the CEI’s scores, which illustrates how different racial and ethnic populations have different levels of advantage and disadvantage.

The data can be accessed through the CEI Interactive Explorer.


Community Equity Index Technical Report