Online Health Impact Assessment Toolkit will assist in community planning

The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC), the Ingham County Health Department and the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Planning, Design and Construction are pleased to announce a new online mapping and analysis tool.

May 21, 2014

CONTACT: Harmony Gmazel, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, hgmazel@mitcrpc.org, 517-393-0342; Mike Thomas, MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction, thomasmr7@comcast.net, 517-332-2986; or Janine Sinno Janoudi, Ingham County Health Department, jsinno@ingham.org, 517-887-4664

EAST LANSING, Mich.—The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC), the Ingham County Health Department and the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Planning, Design and Construction are pleased to announce a new online mapping and analysis tool that supports communities in completing health impact assessments of policies and changes to the built environment, including new construction projects, road improvements, community plans and more.

The Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Toolkit is available at www.midmichigansustainability.org; home of the TCRPC’s Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability (MMPGS). The toolkit is a free, online mapping tool funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust’s Health Impact Project.

The toolkit provides local, state and national leaders, community planners, landowners, developers and the public with the ability to locate a construction or development project on an interactive map to assess the impact that the respective development may or may not have on public health. Examples include assessing the project’s access to public transit lines or sidewalks; its proximity to grocery stores, schools and parks; its impact on local rivers and streams, on noise levels; and much more. The toolkit is based on Meridian Township’s voluntary and successful HIA Checklist, which has been in use since 2006, helping landowners and developers with the permit application and review process.

“Mid-Michigan’s new Health Impact Assessment Toolkit will lead the region, state and nation in helping citizens and professionals better understand the impacts that changes to the built environment can have on local residents’ quality of life,” says Mike Thomas, MSU Professor and MMPGS HIA Toolkit project coordinator.

A detailed user guide is provided on the MMPGS Portal. This summer, the TCRPC and MSU will conduct trainings for communities, government agencies, developers and other interested groups in the use of the tool. Organizations interested in learning more about the HIA Toolkit and training opportunities, should contact Mike Thomas at thomasmr7@comcast.net or call 517-332-2986. Comments and suggestions for improving the tool are welcome.

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