Solution

Challenge

Transit operators

City of Detroit and Spin Scooters

The City of Detroit has engaged with multiple scooter providers in recent years, including Spin. Like most providers, Spin makes scooter trip data available to Detroit and other host cities. And like many cities, Detroit sought to evaluate use patterns for Spin vehicles in a context of the city’s downtown and neighborhood districts. Also, unlike many US cities, the City of Detroit directly operates bus operations, producing an opportunity for scooter patterns to reveal opportunities to strengthen the design of the transit network.





Results

The Visible City team, working in partnership with the City and with Spin, established a process for data sharing, and collected multiple years of usage data. As a second step, our team processed all of the data – hundreds of thousands of trips comprising over eight million points – to clean and categorize the information. With a comprehensive usage data set in hand, Visible City presented the scooter trips on city maps, to address specific questions of equitable access and usage.




Through the Visible City exercise, the City gained access to fine-grained analysis revealing how and where community members choose to use scooters in relation to land use, employment centers, the existing transit network and other factors. Having such insight provides both cities and scooter providers with critical background for maximizing the value of micromobility in modern cities.








Solution

Challenge

Government AgencIES

City of Richfield, Minnesota

 Leaders of the City of Richfield, Minnesota felt compelled to evaluate transportation and business conditions in a district along the I-494 interstate highway, prior to giving municipal consent to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for proposed reconfiguration of I-494 interchanges within city limits. As a growing first-ring suburb and evolving land use pattern, Richfield leaders sought analysis and interpretation of mobility and commercial patterns in the previously car-oriented district along the interstate.



Results

The Visible City team collected a wide range of data from sources including anonymized mobile phone locations, commercial property listings for sale and lease, detailed car traffic patterns, transit boardings and alightings, land use and parcel valuations and other metrics, to inform an evaluation and the municipal consent decision. Visible City also conducted interviews to capture community perceptions, and examined potential benefit of a multimodal connection from the commercial district under a nearby right of way barrier at Highway 77.


The presentation of findings proved valuable for the Mayor, City Council members and City staff, in vetting potential granting of municipal consent to, and negotiating with, MnDOT. Visible City’s visualizations also helped the City secure a state investment in the multimodal connection at Highway 77.






Solution

Destination Medical Center

The Destination Medical Center is a transformative, $5.6 billion public-private initiative launched in 2013 to leverage the economic development potential of growing medical and related industry clustered around the internationally-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Two areas for urgent action by the DMC’s economic development agency (EDA) are establishing mobility hubs to facilitate multimodal transportation in and around Rochester, and creating a shared plan for expanding the supply of affordable housing in the marketplace.



Results

The EDA retained the Visible City team to examine dynamic conditions in fine grain, to identify high-impact locations for mobility hubs and for development of housing for Rochester workers. The team gathered data including property and development, social media posting, transit ridership by individual bus stop and intersections where pedestrians and cyclists face highest risks of injury by car.

The Visible City team delivered to the EDA a broader and deeper basis for decision making, as they plan for and guide long-term and large-scale investments in Rochester. Early choices in the $5.6 billion initiative will deliver compounding benefits, and the EDA’s prioritization of dynamic analysis to select locations for mobility hubs will maximize the impact of those investments, in transportation and other areas of community life in Rochester.





Challenge

Solution

Challenge

K-12 school districts

Saint Paul Public Schools and City of Saint Paul

The City of Saint Paul, Minnesota and the Saint Paul Public Schools serve a growing capital city of more than 300,000 residents and 35,700 students. Each agency’s team manages a portfolio of land, facilities and programs to serve community needs. In the past, the City and School District undertook program planning, capital investment, and evaluation individually, not based on data shared in collaboration. Without shared analytic tools, acute pinch points, unused capacity and capital needs persisted.




Results

 Visible City coordinated an initial process to identify mutual goals, opportunities and pitfalls relating to the sharing of facilities. Our team next embarked on an analytics phase, bringing together for the first time all of the City and School District data relating to land and facilities, programs and usage. The Visible City team evaluated agency’s fields, gyms, community rooms and other spaces; highlighted pinch points and underutilized assets; and guided the interagency team with custom, real-time digital tools to plan and implement systemwide scheduling.



For the first time, leadership of the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Public Schools have a full, joined data picture, from which to build on their common mission by planning and executing sharing of facilities. Building custom tools specific to client needs, wrapped with policy consulting, the Visible City team has helped the City of Saint Paul and the School District begin a meaningful expansion of their efficient and transparent coordination of shared facilities.







Nonprofits + foundations

Solution

Challenge

Midtown Greenway Coalition

The Midtown Greenway, a 5.7-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail that cuts a direct east-west line across Minneapolis, includes some of the city’s most heavily-trafficked cycling points, with a total of over one million estimated trips per year. The car-free thoroughfare is a key contributing factor to Minneapolis’s role as one of the country’s most bike-friendly cities. In contrast, Saint Paul has a less robust cycling network and sees overall lower trip volume. For over 15 years, local stakeholders have advocated for an extension of the Greenway over the Mississippi River to connect to Saint Paul’s existing trails—recent efforts include a feasibility study funded by the Midtown Greenway Coalition in 2019 to assess the viability of rehabbing an infrequently-used railroad bridge—but the extension to the east has yet to be realized. 

Results

Visible City collaborated with Damon Farber’s team of architects and graphic designers to carry out an impact study on behalf of the Midtown Greenway Coalition. Prior to the study’s completion, the economic and social benefits of the trail had long been anecdotally agreed-upon, but there was little to no quantitative data to support these claims. The Visible City team developed a unique methodology to measure the trail’s contribution to increases in market and tax value, as well as to make informed economic projections within four study areas identified as opportunities for expansion. 

The final report included the breakthrough finding that the Midtown Greenway has contributed to a $1.8 billion increase in market value within 500 feet of the trail, and projections indicated that growth could be similarly strong were the trail to be expanded to the study’s opportunity areas. The methods and visualizations created by Visible City have been helpful aids in promoting the Midtown Greenway Coalition’s message, and momentum around the expansion continues to build.


Solution

Challenge

Family Housing Fund

The Family Housing Fund is a regional collaboration of public and philanthropic partners focused on fostering innovative approaches to preserve and produce affordable housing in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area. Originally, the Fund approached Visible City about collecting and visualizing property data from multiple conflicting sources, to support prospective land assembly by cities and other local governments.



Results

The Visible City team developed a visual, accessible web-based tool to allow the Fund and its stakeholders to sift and sort land parcels, to explore potential assemblages among public partners. With the Visible City team’s management, the Fund has ongoing access to a customized tool with routinely updated data, policy criteria and other variables. 


The Family Housing Fund has used the web-based tools developed by Visible City to strengthen engagement with local and state elected officials and staff, and a basis for targeting their efforts in funding, advocacy, and supporting innovation in the housing marketplace.




Solution

Challenge

YMCA of Greater Boston

After a year of government-mandated shutdowns, safety concerns, and economic hardship, the YMCA of Greater Boston realized a need for a fresh assessment of its facilities, programming, and membership model in 2021. As it endeavored to maintain a viable operating budget while staying true to its mission of advancing equity, the Association’s understanding of its own role in the current marketplace was suddenly more critical than ever.


Results

The Visible City team undertook an intensive analysis of the Association’s 13 branches, and the market and demographic dynamics surrounding each. In addition to geospatial data processing and visualization, the team also worked with professional survey designers and administrators to develop a custom survey instrument. Targeted at both current YMCA stakeholders and the broader Boston community, the survey provided insight into public perception of the YMCA of Greater Boston’s locations, their competitors, and the Association as a whole. 

Combining proprietary member and programming data with a broad range of external data layers, plus the survey results, allowed Visible City to develop a set of findings and recommendations that delivered a level of depth and insight that the YMCA of Greater Boston would likely not have achieved otherwise. These recommendations are currently being put into practice as the Association continues to evolve. 




Solution

Challenge

Affordable housing 

CommonBond Communities

As a leader in development and management of affordable housing across the Midwest, CommonBond is always looking for ways to streamline the process of identifying priority candidates for property acquisition, to advance their mission. In addition, policy documents including each state’s Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), combined with proprietary criteria, help guide CommonBond’s investment strategy in communities they serve.


Results

In multiple markets, Visible City has assisted CommonBond in identifying off-market and listed sites, ranging from vacant land to naturally-occurring affordable housing, to expedite acquisition. 


Visible City’s combination of data collection, analysis and interpretation, along with industry expertise, have served CommonBond well in efforts to expand affordable housing in multiple states.