Dr. Charles Davis, first gentleman at Furman University and a member of the United Way Board, spoke at a news conference on Tuesday to unveil the interactive map. Photo provided by Furman University.

Greenville County has released a new interactive online map to connect people with essential services and more.

The online map, also known as iMap, allows users to locate bus stops, parks, educational institutions, affordable housing, health centers, quality childcare, food pantries, recreation centers, shelters, community gardens, farmer’s markets, employment assistance, elderly assistance, and governmental offices.

“Our goal with iMap is to increase community members’ awareness of and convenience of access to essential life services such as food, housing, health care, and even recreational opportunities in Greenville County,” said Shannon Herman, assistant county administrator of strategic advancement for Greenville County.

The map also includes various features (one click calling, GPS directions, street view images, etc.) that help users find the resources they need.

“We wanted to create a quality, relevant tool with vetted and reliable information,” said Herman.

In 2015, the county partnered with Greenville Health System, Furman University, United Way of Greenville County, and 2-1-1 to create the map. Furman University students and professors spent months meeting with local organizations to identify essential services across the county and then used geocoding – an automated process that compares a list of addresses against a database to calculate coordinates – to plot more than 1,000 individual services on the map.

“Our students have been able to learn from and collaborate with community leaders, while also helping to develop an innovative tool that will benefit the health and well-being of the greater Greenville community,” said Dr. Charles Davis, first gentleman at Furman University and a member of the United Way Board of Trustees.

Officials said iMap can also be used by Greenville County’s decision-makers, such as health and public safety officials and county planners, or by private businesses and residents to analyze the spatial distribution of community assets and service areas to identify where services need to be added or enhanced.

“Being able to identify where there is little or no access to health care services, for example, enables us to make better, more informed decisions about where and how we allocate our resources,” said Jennifer Snow, director of accountable communities at Greenville Health System. “The insight gleaned from this map is invaluable as we work together with our partners to meet the health care needs of the greater Greenville community.”

Herman said the map saw some positive results during the testing phase.

For example, an agency that helps the homeless was able to inform a young mother about child care options close to her home and a library staff member was able to connect a homebound resident to a local food pantry. Additionally, local realtors have used the map to show buyers services near properties of interest.

“When people feel empowered to seek out and obtain the services they need to succeed, good things happen,” said Richard LaPratt, executive vice president of contact center services for 2-1-1. “We see numerous stories of success every year through 2-1-1, and we believe the same results are possible with iMap.”

Herman said the county would likely add museums, theaters, hiking trails, bike paths, and activities for teenagers.

For more information, visit greenvilleimap.com.

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