Data Day 2015
Research & Analysis


Smart Growth & Regional Collaboration

Insight on the past, present, and future of Metro Boston.

The Research Group creates new data resources and conducts original analysis to provide insight on the past, present, and future of Metro Boston. We cultivate new datasets by mining administrative records, compiling on-line sources, or crowd-sourcing information from community partners. Our demographic and land use projections serve as the foundation for a wide variety of planning and policy activities; and our original research on demographic, economic, and housing trends helps planners and policymakers make informed decisions about the future of the region. We also help MAPC to monitor progress toward the goals of the MetroFuture through our Regional Indicators program.

Rethinking the Retail Strip Map

Rethinking the Retail Strip

January 2022

MAPC analyzed more than 3,000 strip malls and similar shopping centers across Greater Boston, then set out to understand the potential impacts of redeveloping them. Can they help close gaps in access to affordable housing, transportation, and more?

The report found that if just 10% were redeveloped into mixed-use projects, 124,000 homes could be created, increasing building values to the tune of $479 million in extra tax revenue for host communities.

Read the report.


Hidden and in Plain Sight: Impacts of E-Commerce in Massachusetts

February 2021

This report concentrates primarily on the transportation and land use effects of increasing online shopping, highlighting key trends both nationally and in Massachusetts. We suggest directions for further research, and we put forward potential policies that could help communities sustainably manage the growth in warehousing and distribution centers and its associated delivery traffic.

Read the report.

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Housing Submarkets

February 2021

A housing submarket is a collection of neighborhoods—some next to each other, some not—with similar housing stock and housing market characteristics. These characteristics determine who can find, afford, and remain in suitable housing in that neighborhood. The neighborhoods in each submarket share common needs and challenges, regardless of geographic location. MAPC’s study revealed seven distinct housing submarkets in the Greater Boston region.

Visit the website.

Background, blur, out of focus, bokeh. Traffic jams, road repairs, or accidents. Red brake lights of stopped cars

The Impacts of Land Use and Pricing in Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled and Transport Emissions in Massachusetts

January 2021

Using a pair of established land use and travel behavior models, MAPC has forecast growth in vehicle miles traveled by 2030 under various scenarios, and estimates the relative impact of different land use patterns and pricing policies, alone and in combination with each other.

Read the research brief.

Eviction Notice Document on table

Evictions and COVID-19: The Responsibility of the Large Landlord

December 2020

The Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), in partnership with the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development, have studied evictions in the City of Boston in 2015-16, and what we have found can inform local, state, and federal response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the research brief.


Zoning Atlas Screen Shot

Introduction to the MAPC Zoning Atlas

December 2020

MAPC's Zoning Atlas, a resource nine years in the making, is the first regional zoning map since 1999 and the first to include information about multifamily housing, residential density, commercial density, and overlay districts. Even more important, it is being published as a dynamic online resource that will improve over time as municipal staff and other contributors refine the data and provide updates.

Read the introduction to the Zoning Atlas.


3D render of an interior of a supermarket with empty shelves and Covid 19 virus cells

The Crisis Continues: The COVID-19 Layoff Housing Gap October Update:

October 2020

This research brief continues MAPC’s efforts to track COVID-19 unemployment and associated housing insecurity in Massachusetts. Combining this data from state agencies and the U.S. Census Bureau, we estimate the number of households affected by unemployment, whether they will be able to cover both rent and other basic expenses with their remaining income, and if not, what the monthly gap is.

Read the research brief.


paramedics and firefighters

The Diversity Deficit: Municipal Employees in Metro Boston

July 2020

This research brief uses self-reported demographic and occupational information compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau to assess the age, gender, and race/ethnicity demographics of municipal employees living in Metro Boston, a region encompassing 164 cities and towns.

In Greater Boston there are many reasons to be concerned about the demographics of our municipal workforce. As this research demonstrates, city and town employees are, as a whole, both older and Whiter than the region’s labor force, as well as its population.

Read the full report.


MAPC region pollution proximity index

Racial Disparities in the Proximity to Vehicle Air Pollution in the MAPC Region

May 2020

Exposure to ultrafine particles (UFP) is strongly correlated with increased risks of developing cardio-pulmonary and other inflammatory diseases These illnesses, in turn, increase the risk of death for COVID-19 patients.

In the MAPC region, as elsewhere, road vehicles are a major source of local UFP emissions, and residents living near roadways with high levels of these emissions are exposed to significantly increased levels of UFP pollution. We performed an analysis to quantify the proximity of different populations to major sources of vehicle air pollution across the region. This report identifies key areas in the region where residents live close to large sources of vehicle pollution and quantifies the racial inequities that exist in pollution proximity.

Read the full report.



Research Brief: The COVID-19 Layoff Housing Gap

April 2020

The United States and Massachusetts are experiencing an unprecedented crisis. Employees who are not “essential” or who can’t work from home are seeing drastically reduced work hours or are being laid off. The first wave of COVID-related unemployment included nearly 329,000 new claims in Massachusetts.

This analysis demonstrates that COVID-related unemployment has the potential to create a huge housing crisis in Massachusetts. Many households will need help after the one-time direct payments are exhausted. Many workers may not be eligible for federal assistance, or it may not arrive in time. Therefore, there is a need for the state and federal governments to take steps to ensure that workers are not displaced from their homes during this crisis.

Read the full report.


February Calendar map

Crowded In and Priced Out: Why It’s so Hard to Find a Family-Sized Unit in Greater Boston

February 2020

MAPC set out to learn who is living in the “family-sized” units in 13 cities and towns in the region’s Inner Core. We looked at the number of people living in units with three or more bedrooms and the age of the head of household. We broke that information out by whether the unit is rented or owned, what kind of building it is in, and how these characteristics have changed over time. We also examined overcrowding in smaller units to better understand the full demand for larger places to live.

Read full report



December 2019

A group's exposure to climate hazards, access to resources, and ability to plan for and rebuild after a climate event all factor into a group's vulnerability to climate change. This research examined the central question: Which populations are most vulnerable to the climate hazards that are likely to impact Metro Boston?

To answer this question MAPC constructed a regional climate vulnerability index that shows which neighborhoods in Metro Boston are more vulnerable to climate hazards than other. This mapping tool- which combines sociodemographic, public health, housing, and workforce data with climate exposure data- can be used to help identify which populations should be centered in climate preparedness and resiliency work.

Read full report and explore the data


FIRST MILES: Examining 18 Months of Dockless Bikeshare in Metro Boston

November 2019

Dockless bikes are an entirely new form of travel in the region, providing rapid mobility for local trips generally less than two miles. This report provides a first look at the data produced by the Lime dockless bike system which has been operating in the Boston region since Spring 2018, following a 2017 pilot program int he City of Malden. MAPC  analyzed information about 300,000 trips to better understand how people are using the system to get around the region, and also to map where people are riding.

Read full report and explore the data

Perfect Fit Parking Initiative Report Cover

Perfect Fit Parking

July 2019

Parking, especially the amount of parking that should be required for new housing, is a hotly-debated issue in Metro Boston. Over the past three years, MAPC has set out to measure the actual supply and demand for residential parking in the Inner Core subregion, which includes Boston and 20 surrounding municipalities. We interviewed property managers and conducted overnight counts of parking spaces and parked cars at nearly 200 multifamily residential developments in 14 cities and towns. Overall, 30 percent of the available parking we surveyed was not being used. This research suggests not only is the over-building of parking in residential development wasting money and useful space, but the provision of abundant parking may also be counterproductive to local transportation goals for traffic and sustainability.

Read full report and explore the data

A photo of a young Uber driver smiling out the window of his silver car.

Share of Choices: Further Evidence of the Ride-hailing effect in Metro Boston and Massachusetts

May 2018

On May 1, Massachusetts regulators released a first-ever statewide picture of annual ride-hailing activity through a data set detailing the total number of trips by municipality and average trip length for the state. Coming shortly after the release of MAPC's Fare Choices report on ride-hailing passengers, these statistics provide additional evidence that a travel mode option that did not exist a decade ago is quickly altering travel patterns and choices throughout Metro Boston and Massachusetts.

Read the Full Report

Photo via Uber

Medium shot of a young woman smiling while standing on a street waiting for her ride

Fare Choices: A Survey of Ride-Hailing Passengers in Metro Boston

February 2018

MAPC surveyed nearly 1,000 ride-hailing passengers in late 2017 and asked about their demographics, the nature of their trip, and why they chose ride-hailing over other modes of transportation.

The results confirmed many common assumptions about ride-hailing users; they also provided striking new insight into the ways that the services are changing travel behavior and affecting our existing transportation system.

Read the Full Report

Photo via Uber

Desks in an empty classroom

The Waning Influence of Housing Production on Public School Enrollment

October 2017

One of the most widespread worries about new housing development, especially in suburban communities, is that it will drive up school enrollment. Many local officials and residents assume that new housing, and especially new multifamily housing, will attract families - families with children who will inevitably increase enrollment in the local public schools - creating additional education costs outweighing any new revenue the housing generates. MAPC examined housing permit and enrollment trends across 234 public school districts over the past 6 years and found no correlation between housing unit growth and enrollment change.

Read the Full Report

July 11, 2014. Cambridge, MA.
The State of Equity in Metro Boston Action at Harvard Law School. Metropolitan Area Planning Council. 
Keynote by Angela Glover Blackwell,  Founder and CEO of PolicyLink.
Release and discussion of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council's State of Equity in Metro Boston Action Agenda. Based on the findings of the 2011 State of Equity in Metro Boston Indicators Report, it is a set of recommendations and action items to create a more equitable region. The event, during which lunch will be served, will be cosponsored by Harvard Law School's Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, the Mel King Institute, and Action for Regional Equity.
© 2014 Marilyn Humphries

Regional indicators

Updated Spring 2017

Our Regional Indicators program is a set of measures that quantify our progress as a region in achieving the goals of MetroFuture.

MetroFuture, MAPC’s long-range vision for a more sustainable and equitable Metro Boston in the year 2030, includes goals that were established through community input and a collaborative stakeholder engagement process. By measuring our progress, we can identify where action or intervention are needed, and find opportunities for collaboration.

Explore our Regional Indicators



Housing Greater Boston’s Workforce

September 2016

Across Metro Boston, there is a growing sense that the housing problems that one affected only low-income families are now affecting a greater number of households at higher and higher incomes. Many people fear that high housing prices are driving middle income middle-income families out of their neighborhood, and out of the region. To help shed light on these issues, the Data Services Research team analyzed household characteristics, income trends, and housing costs since 1990, with a focus on “middle income” households. We also projected the amount and type of housing that will be needed to accommodate new working households over the coming 15 years.

Read the full report

Rental Market Rates Dimensions of Displacement


Baseline Data for Managing Neighborhood Change in Somerville’s Green Line Corridor

February 2014

This report, prepared in collaboration with the City of Somerville, Somerville Community Corporation, Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership, Friends of the Community Path, and Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance is intended to help focus action on the strategies with the best potential to preserve a diversity of housing opportunities in Somerville.

Read full Report

Read Executive Summary

Growing Station Areas Cover

Growing Station Areas

Typology of transit station areas across Metro Boston and estimates of housing development potential


This report presents a framework for evaluating transit-oriented development potential across the wide variety of transit station area contexts across the MBTA service region. It defines 10 different station area “types” and uses station- and type-specific assumptions to estimate housing and economic development capacity in each station.

Read full report


Kids are Commuters, too

Assessing the Mode Shift Potential of Walk to School Programs in Massachusetts


With support provided by the Barr Foundation, WalkBoston and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) developed a spatial framework for the following:

WalkBoston and MAPC recorded their findings and recommendations in the report Kids are Commuters Too: Assessing the Mode Shift Potential of Walk to School Programs.

  • Assessing district- and school-level walkability
  • New methods for collecting student commute data
  • And a formula for estimating the GHG footprint of student auto commutes and the reductions that might be achieved by successful SRTS programs

Read the full report



The Impact of School Construction on District Enrollment in Massachusetts Public Schools, 1996 – 2006

December 2009

MAPC Data Services analyzed the the impact of school construction on district enrollment in Massachusetts public school districts before and after major school construction or renovation projects that took place between 1996 and 2006. The primary goal of this effort, conducted for the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) was to ascertain whether enrollment increases after construction or renovation of a school facility above and beyond what would have been projected to occur in the absence of a construction event?

Read full Report