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May 22, 2014

New toolkit gauges health impact of development

A new online mapping tool that supports communities by providing information about new construction projects, road improvements, community plans and more was created by the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and the Ingham County Health Department.

The Health Impact Assessment Toolkit is available at, home of the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability.

The toolkit is a free, online mapping tool which 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 see the impact that the 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 and on noise levels. The toolkit is based on a similar project in Meridian Township.

“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 MSU Professor and toolkit project coordinator Mike Thomas.

A detailed user guide is provided on the mid-Michigan sustainability website. This summer, training sessions will be conducted for communities, government agencies, developers and other interested groups in the use of the tool. Organizations interested in learning more about the toolkit and training opportunities should contact Mike Thomas at or call 517-332-2986. Comments and suggestions for improving the tool are welcome.