The objective, numbers-based verdict is in: Council's proposed city maps are better than the current official map – but not as good as they could be. That's if you accept the characteristics of a quality map identified by the good folks at Azavea.

Azavea, the geospatial analysis firm that put together the FixPhillyDistricts citizen mapping contest, have measured how Council's two proposed maps compare to the current one, and to the winner of the contest.

Here's the takeaway:

  • Both maps score better than the current map on "compactness," which is a measure of district shape (ideally, districts wouldn't have strange little extremities, or jagged edges). They both score significantly worse, however, than the map drawn by FixPhillyDistricts winner John Attanasio.
  • Both maps score much better than the current map on keeping the populations across districts more or less equal – though, again, they score much worse than Attanasio's map.
  • The map submitted by Councilmembers Kenney and DiCicco splits fewer wards than the current map (35, compared to 42), though the Verna/Tasco map splits one more. The Attanasio map splits 21. The idea here is to allow communities to communicate with elected officials without splitting their influence across districts – though this assumes that a ward is a coherent community in Philadelphia.
  • Both proposed maps create a district with a larger Hispanic population than the current map, though neither creates a majority-Hispanic district. Attanasio's map creates one such district (around what is currently the 7th district), but it also allows for one less majority African-American district than both the proposed maps and the current map.

On this week's It's Our Money podcast, we talk to FixPhillyDistrict's president Robert Cheetham about all this. We'll have that posted a little later today.

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