Steans Center > For Students > Graduate Fellowships > Steans Graduate Fellowship > Steans Graduate Fellows > Framework Development for a Miami-Dade Age-Friendly Asset Map: Helena Swanson

Developing a Framework for an Age-Friendly Asset Map in Miami-Dade County


Picture of Helena

Helena Swanson, Winter 2022 Fellow  

Doctoral Program, Community Psychology, College of Science and Health 

​Community Collaborator: Urban Health Partnerships​

In collaboration with Urban Health Partnerships (UHP), a non-profit organization in Miami, Florida, the goal of this project was to develop a framework for a Miami-Dade County age-friendly asset map. UHP is a community change agent in Miami-Dade County in Florida, leading many community-based projects seeking to address inequities within their communities. The Age-Friendly Movement was founded by AARP and the World Health Organization as a call to action to address the ways in which ageism and ableism plague our society by intervening in communities and creating spaces for people of all ages and all abilities. The Age-Friendly Community Initiative is a community-wide initiative led by UHP with the mission of improving communities in the county to be livable, safe, and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. At its core, age-friendliness is inherently a movement to make communities more socially equitable.

Project Goals
The goals of the project were two-fold: (1) to organize, collect, and analyze internal archival organizational data and (2) to create an interactive map highlighting community assets based on archival data. 

To achieve the first goal, we collected archival data from numerous sources to attempt to provide a holistic perspective of age-friendly assets in Miami-Dade County. Some examples of data sources include AARP's livability index, Miami's Department of Transportation website, internal UHP stakeholder lists, and municipality websites. To achieve the second goal of the project, we obtained geographical information system (GIS) software to create an interactive map. UHP and I explored a few different options and eventually selecting ArcGIS . ArcGIS was chosen because UHP employees are familiar with the software and envisioned a future when the organization utilized the program for community-based projects. To attain long-term access to ArcGIS, UHP applied to a nonprofit program offered by ESRI, the company that owns the software. ESRI offers low-cost access to the program for nonprofits..  

Goal Achievement

The first goal of the project was partially achieved. Through multiple collaborative conversations, UHP and I identified eight aspects of age-friendliness that we wished to capture in our archival data search. The eight aspects include lead agencies in the county addressing age-friendliness, stakeholders and partners addressing age-friendliness, government committees dedicated to age-friendliness and related topics, specified age-friendly communities, livability scores for each municipality, services (e.g., transportation, housing, senior/community centers, libraries, parks, and food programs), communities awarded UHP mini-grants and their associated age-friendly projects, and age-friendly initiative policies by the municipality. Given the breadth of information on all of these aspects, not all aspects were provided data points for mapping during the duration of this project. 

Unfortunately, the second goal of this project was not achieved. The non-profit ArcGIS application was written for UHP to apply but was never submitted. In the end, we never obtained ArcGIS access and the interactive map was not created.​

Future Potential Work
Given the identified project challenges and incomplete project goals, this project would greatly benefit from continued efforts. DePaul students skilled in community-based partnerships and collaborations, data organization, and geographic information systems (e.g., ArcGIS) with an interest in age-friendliness could move this project to completion. Once the project is completed, an important follow-up project would be to review the interactive age-friendly asset map to identify areas of strength and weakness with municipalities within the county. For example, if the majority of age-friendly assets are concentrated within a given municipality or neighborhood, it would be important to identify why that may be and how to expand age-friendly assets to underserved areas. Another potential future project includes the sustainability of the interactive map, including updating the map annually so it properly reflects any positive community changes related to age-friendliness.

Project Impact
This project and any continuation of the project will impact issues of social equity. People with disabilities are historically marginalized people and ageism and ableism are prevalent in our physical environment and need social intervention to be addressed. As previously mentioned, promoting and furthering age-friendliness within communities is inherently a movement toward social equity because age-friendliness is about making communities livable for people of all ages and abilities. Identifying age-friendly assets is important for UHP and Miami-Dade County so that people with disabilities and older adults may fully utilize the assets to ensure livability. Furthermore, identifying where assets are and where they are not may provide further community-based intervention work for UHP to address by advocating for the continued expansion and development of age-friendly assets.      ​