St. Louis News: SLU, NGA Tackle Social Challenges With Technology

ST LOUIS, MO (STL.News) Crime and poverty are issues that have plagued the St. Louis region for decades.

These topics were thoroughly addressed by the Ferguson Commission’s landmark report, entitled “Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity.”  The 16 members who served on the Commission made 189 “calls to action” in the nearly 200 page report.  The main focus was on racial and economic disparities.

Technology too seems to be offering a role in finding solutions to reducing crime and poverty.  Saint Louis University (SLU) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) four part series, “Geospatial 101” explores how geospatial data is used to visualize patterns of poverty, crime, and unemployment.

During the second part of the series presented on Monday at the Salus Center Auditorium on the campus of Saint Louis University, experts discussed how this data is applied to combating these social challenges.

Dr. Ness Sandoval, an associate professor of Sociology at SLU was one of the experts who spoke during the presentation.

“It’s choosing technology I would say in two ways.  One is to identify spacial patterns within neighborhoods or within municipalities that are important, that we should be focusing on from a policy perspective, but second is, once you identify those patterns, being able to give the data and make it transparent to everybody.” Sandoval explained.

“Maybe you can’t fix an entire zip code and maybe you can’t improve an entire neighborhood, but you can go in a neighborhood and say these four blocks are in the most need.  We can identify which four blocks need those resources.” Sandoval added.

Back in January, Saint Louis University signed a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency to establish a new relationship that will allow SLU to collaborate with the NGA on geospatial research, training, and innovation initiatives.

The next presentation will address mapping health and disease.  It will be held on March 4 at Saint Louis University Campus Salus Center Auditorium.

More information is available online at