What We Do

MISSION: The Polis Center works with our partners to define, measure, and actively improve community health, well-being, and resiliency.

Our motto is “We bring things into perspective.” Our primary service is to build understanding of issues from a variety of perspectives.

The Polis Center values place. The center has been a trusted resource for Indiana and beyond for nearly 35 years, using its technical and analytical expertise to help with decision-making processes, strategic planning, and programming.

A research center in the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indianapolis, Polis plays a critical role in improving community development and quality-of-life efforts; natural disaster resiliency and responsiveness to climate change and all its repercussions; and community health issues and their social and environmental determinants.

Its services include comprehensive integration, analysis, and visualization of rapidly growing information on the places where we live and work to support consequential change. This means Polis helps communities and organizations increase sustainability and effectiveness; understand trends, inequities, and disparities in important issues to inform action; and transforms data into meaningful information and context and makes it accessible through online dashboards.

COMMUNITY INFORMATICS: We create community intelligence to support the decision-making process with and for nonprofits, community based organizations, and government. We build solutions that are grounded in data, research, and community process. Our work includes building community information systems and decision support tools; transforming data to extend its utility; developing and analyzing community data to understand social issues and how they impact communities; bringing academic research to practical applications; fostering data literacy; and building capacity in others to use information for decision-making.

HEALTH GEOINFORMATICS: Our work with the health sector advances community health and supports the growing discipline of population health management. We combine and analyze clinical, social, and environmental data, and create assessment and decision-making tools. In our collaboration with the public health and healthcare sectors, we curate an extensive collection of data sets on the social determinants of community health and resilience.

GEOINFORMATICS:  We perform an important function in assessing different types of vulnerabilities and needs for local, state, tribal and federal government; the private sector; and nonprofits. We reinforce community efforts to prevent or reduce losses from natural disasters by combining geospatial analysis, modeling, and outreach activities. Our disaster (or crisis) informatics initiatives support disaster preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery activities. We design and develop open source as well as Esri technology-driven information systems through which to explore the interconnectedness of people, place, community, information, and technology. We also create and implement research to assess the physical, social and economic impacts of hazards.

EDUCATION:  We develop and support standardized as well as customized training and education in the geographic information systems tools and methods that support disaster risk assessment and mitigation planning. The Polis Education program has delivered workshops, presentations and related services in more than 100 cities in 40 states and multiple countries since its inception.