Durham Neighborhood CompassDurham Neighborhood Compass

Why This is Important

The diversity of land uses can reflect the richness of social and economic life in a community. Just as mixed uses in a single property are desirable for bringing people and their service or amenity needs closer to one another, the same is true within neighborhoods. Increased land use diversity can have transportation, health and environmental implications as well as create greater collocation of jobs and housing. But it is not a guaranteed positive, as fewer types of land use may entail concentrations of residential property near a selection of core community commercial services (being only two types of land use in unequal numbers).

About the Data

The calculation of this measurement uses a modified Simpson Index of Diversity, which measures the variety and evenness of different groups. A higher number in this measure reflects both a higher number of land use types in each area and a more balanced acreage among each land use. Parcels are categorized as: agricultural, residential, commercial, recreation, industrial, community services, public services (utilities), wild and forested lands. We include vacant areas in their corresponding land use category (so, for example, the vacant land owned by an HOA in a subdivision is categorized as the same land use as the houses). A measure of 1 would mean each of the possible types of land use is present and that there is an equal number of each. A measure of 0 would mean only one type is present.

For the Compass, we use a modified Simpson index based on the percentage of the acreage of each land use type within each census are, rather than the traditional population counts measure. This better reflects the on-the-ground diversity of land uses regardless of parcel size. The specific formula we use is:

Diversity Index = 1 - ((% of land area in agricultural uses)^2 + (% of land area in residential uses)^2 + (% of land area in commercial uses)^2 + ...).

Note: Prior to May, 2022, this metric was calculated on the basis of a parcel count, which is less accurate overall.

Source: Durham County Tax Administration

Additional Resources

ResourceLearn More and Take Action
The Measurement of the Level of Mixed Land Uses: A Synthetic ApproachA white paper from Daniel Rodriguez and Yan Song about measuring land use diversity and the connection between measures and analysis.
Census TractsCensus Blockgroups

Select a base geography (depending on the dataset, different geographies may be available).

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Data Distribution, 2020

Land Use Diversity

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