Download the Gerrymandering Index (2006) White Paper
Several years ago, we created a product, Cicero, that enables organizations to rapidly match addresses to local, state and national legislative districts, find contact information for elected officials and create maps of districts. The software is used for advocacy, political action, analysis, reporting and much more. The system works based on geographic data, so we spent a lot of time tracking down local, state and federal legislative boundaries for the United States and other parts of the world.
One of the things we observed was that the home of our main office, Philadelphia, had what appeared to be some of the craziest council districts in the country. We wondered just how crazy they really were. So we started doing some research on metrics for assessing the degree to which a given district might be gerrymandered. This led to our gerrymandering white paper in the fall of 2006, in which we assessed both congressional and local districts. It was well received both locally and nationally and contributed to a conversation in Philadelphia about how both the districts and the system might be changed.
Several years after we published our first white paper, our Cicero product had been extended to include more cities, state legislatures and other countries, so we decided to take a fresh look at the process of political redistricting, this time in the context of the 2010 Census and the 2011 redistricting process. The "Redrawing the Map on Redistricting 2010: A National Study" white paper and the "Redrawing the Map on Redistricting 2010: The Philadelphia Study" white paper were the results. In both white papers we have added more cities, included upper and lower state legislative chambers, added more metrics and - to top it all off - made the whole thing available as an interactive, web-based tool on Redistricting the Nation.
With the latest round of Congressional redistricting now complete, Azavea set out to measure districts compactness again and assess how the results from this latest round of redistricting has affected the geometry and geography of legislative districts in the United States. The results are in our newest white paper "Redrawing the Map on Redistricting 2012 - Addendum".