Partnership brings greater access to data, aids regional planning

At Pima Association of Governments (PAG), the data we collect and curate not only informs our long-range planning work, but assists other agencies and those in the private sector to make better planning decisions.

From demographic, socio-economic and land-use to traffic count data, to air quality and water resources, PAG gathers information needed by decision-makers to make important decisions that shape our community.

A map of Tucson in the Sun Cloud portal.
A map of southern Arizona on the Sun Cloud website where data and maps are available for public use.

A new collaborative relationship PAG has entered makes available a portal designed to assist in many areas of urban planning, called Arizona Sun Cloud Data Portal (https://arizona-sun-cloud-agic.hub.arcgis.com/) and its data explorer (https://suncloud.azgeo.az.gov/). Working in partnership with Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and additional Sun Corridor megaregion agencies, this collaborative effort will assist communities large and small to make data-driven urban design and infrastructure planning decisions.

“The ability for planners in urban, suburban and rural areas to access this critical, up-to-date information about our existing infrastructure and communities will help them to develop even better data-driven plans for enhancing sustainability, mobility and livability as the landscape changes,” said Mead Mier-Welborn, a planning manager at Pima Association of Governments.

Public and private sector datasets were compiled from across the Sun Corridor and some were created anew, such as sidewalk and bike land data extracted from orthophotography data to fill in municipal data gaps. They were then incorporated into the Arizona Sun Cloud Data Portal, providing users with interactive maps and built-in tools to assess the connections between data layers, and add customization features to prioritize municipal planning efforts. The open data portal provides access to transportation and socioeconomic data throughout a more than 31,000-square-mile area.

The Sun Cloud data and portal also currently powers important planning initiatives across Arizona’s five-county megaregion, including the analysis of transportation infrastructure and mobility in Justice40 disadvantaged areas, freight routing, and broadband internet accessibility. Ted Brown, Maricopa Association of Governments Transportation Planning and Performance Program Manager, led the initiative and reports that some jurisdictions have already realized increased grant funding as a result of the needs assessments that Sun Cloud provides.

Justice40 is a federal government initiative that directs 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities. This includes investments in clean energy and energy efficiency; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; the remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and the development of clean water infrastructure.

To continue to improve the portal, Sun Cloud participants plan to include more data layers and data updates. PAG RMAP travel demand model socio-economic data, volumes, congestion measure, planned roadways, traffic counts, safety data, sidewalk, bike lane, and traffic median map layers, including details related to width and vegetation, are already available through Sun Cloud.

“The transportation and planning data from PAG play a crucial role in the Arizona Sun Cloud Data Portal, and we are thrilled to deliver this high-quality information efficiently to numerous government organizations within the Sun Corridor megaregion,” said PAG Modeling Director Hyunsoo Noh.

Representing Cochise, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties, Arizona’s Sun Corridor is home to about 85% of the state’s residents. The region’s population is expected to grow 40% by 2050.