Use Case: Academic Research 
Lawrence Brown, Associate Professor
School of Community Health and Public Policy, Morgan State University


How Are Academics Utilizing Data To Help Find Solutions to Challenging Problems Facing Communities?

Much of Dr. Lawrence Brown’s academic research focuses on examining the social and economic issues that drive racial inequity in communities and neighborhoods in Baltimore City. These issues are numerous and multifaceted, including everything from housing and health, to employment and transportation. To this point, one of the central questions that guides Dr. Brown’s research and work is “[w]hat needs to happen in different communities for racial equity to be made real?”

Dr. Brown often employs quantitative data, like BNIA’s Vital Signs, to help him develop strategies for answering these kinds of complex problems. For example, he recently conceived of, and co-developed with his students, a website called the Baltimore Equity Toolkit ( and Powermap ( This website provides users with a centralized and comprehensive collection of information on the relative social and economic health of communities in Baltimore City. Dr. Brown employed a wide range of datasets, including indicators on “Life Expectancy”, to build out the “Powermap” component of the site. By aggregating these datasets, the “Power Map” allows users to click on a specific community and view the status of its “Community Equity Metrics”, for example, “Housing Market”, “Education Readiness”, and “Transportation Access”, just to name a few. This provides users with a profound yet simple glimpse at the overall health of a community.

Dr. Brown hopes that the site will serve as a valuable resource for “community members, students, policymakers, and researchers” as they go about “implementing strategies for racial equity in developing sustainable communities.”

Written by: Zachary Utz