The University of Massachusetts Amherst

UMass Donahue Institute

2020 Publication Archive

COVID Community DataLab

Indicators for an Inclusive Recovery

The Boston Indicators project at the Boston Foundation released the first round of analysis via the COVID Community Data Lab. It is produced in partnership with the Center for Housing Data at the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and with contributions from the Economic & Public Policy Research Group at the UMass Donahue Institute. It has scanned the best available data sources to analyze how Boston communities have changed since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis in early March. (Since public health experts are covering the dynamics of the virus spread, the focus is on non-virus-related areas.)

On May 20, 2020, a webinar discussed early findings from this work and future directions. It included a presentation of the research and comments from Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, Member of Boston’s COVID-19 Health Inequities Task Force, Boston Foundation Board Member, Chief Impact Officer at DentaQuest and contributions from Research Analyst Abigail Raisz, from the institute’s Economic & Public Policy Research group.

This project looked at non-traditional data sources like call volumes to the state’s 211 social service call center, weekly unemployment claims and road traffic through Mass Pike toll gantries. None of them are perfect, but taken together they show how the public health and the economic dynamics of the crisis have exacerbated underlying inequities, with those already among society’s most vulnerable hit hardest.

For this initial project launch we cover the following domains:

  • Equity Analysis of COVID-19 Spread by City/Town
  • Housing
  • Economic Impacts
  • Demand for Social Assistance Programs
  • Transportation and Mobility Patterns
  • Census 2020 Response Rates

This is an ongoing research project that will be updated regularly, including expansions to the housing analysis that will link to a remodeled 2020 Greater Boston Housing Report Card. This initial launch includes only some of the relevant data points we need for understanding this crisis.

Please visit the full project online at the COVID Community Data Lab.


Boston Indicators is the research center at the Boston Foundation, which works to advance a thriving Greater Boston for all residents across all neighborhoods. We do this by analyzing key indicators of well-being and by researching promising ideas for making our city more prosperous, equitable and just. To ensure that our work informs active efforts to improve our city, we work in deep partnership with community groups, civic leaders and Boston’s civic data community to produce special reports and host public convenings.

By collaborating with a wide range of partners, the Boston Foundation provides opportunities for people to come together to explore challenges facing our constantly changing community and to develop an informed civic agenda. All of the Boston Foundation’s civic leadership activities are supported by our annual campaign for Civic Leadership.

Visit to learn more about this important campaign.


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