Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies

RSS Feed
PO Box 751 Portland State University
Portland, OR
Sheila Martin, Director and Professor

Institutional Setting

The Institute was formed in 1992 under the leadership of Nohad A. Toulan, founding dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University. The Institute is a research and services center within the college, but has an external governing board consisting of regional leaders and citizens.

The mission of the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies (IMS) is to advance the economic, environmental, and social goals of the Portland metropolitan region by gathering and disseminating credible information, convening regional partners, and stimulating dialogue and action about critical regional issues. In addition, IMS provides statewide information about demographic trends through the Population Research Center, which became affiliated with IMS in August of 2009.

Indicators Initiatives

The Institute is currently pursuing three related indicators initiatives:

  1. The Metropolitan Knowledge Network;
  2. Greater Portland Pulse;
  3. A regional equity atlas.


1. The Metropolitan Knowledge Network (http://mkn.research.pdx.edu) is a new web-based resource developed to improve PSU’s ability to engage community leaders in discussions about a variety of public policy issues. MKN offers the community a comprehensive resource for analysis and data relevant to the key issues facing our metropolitan region. MKN presents articles comparing metropolitan areas (MSAs and CBSAs) to the Portland Metropolitan region, as well as examining small geographies (counties and tracts primarily) within the Metropolitan area.We provide policy briefs, tables, maps, and interactive charts on topics ranging from business growth to measuring poverty.

2. Greater Portland Pulse (http://www.portlandpulse.org/) is a growing partnershipbetween Portland State University, Metro and morethan 100 organizations to measure and focus onwhat is important for everyone in the region. Forthe first time, anyone can “check the pulse” of thegreater Portland region. At portlandpulse.org,72 inter-connected indicators in nine topics reveal how theregion is doing economically, socially andenvironmentally.

Greater Portland Pulse is about more than creating a collection of cool indicators, great data and a slick, interactive website. It is about:

  • Choosing indicators, a political and strategic process. What are the goals of communities and organizations across the region? How are they measuring progress? How can we leverage these efforts to form a collective vision, goals and regional indicators of progress?
  • Measuring indicators, a technical process. How can we gather and report the data with clarity, accuracy, reliability and validity - without having to spend a lot of extra money?
  • Using indicators, a communications and results management process. How can we best share the data, learn from each other the meaning behind the data and co-create the most effective paths forward? How can we use the data to drive better results and accountability?

3. The Regional Equity Atlas, published by the Coalition for a Livable Future in 2007, is a collection of data at the neighborhood level and maps that describe changes in those variables from 1990 to 2000. These variables included maps and data for all the neighborhoods in the region with a special emphasis on access to amenities such as public transportation, affordable housing, high quality schools, grocery stores, parks, and natural habitat.

IMS participated in the development of the Equity Atlas data and had major responsibility for creating the maps. Thus, we have possession of the neighborhood-level data that was used to create the maps. The variables included in the Atlas were gathered, averaged, and mapped at the neighborhood level from point data, school catchment area, or census block group data.

IMS is currently working with the Coalition for a Livable Future on an expansion and update of the Regional Equity Atlas. This new version will offer a rich vehicle for the collection and dissemination of an expanded set of neighborhood data, and will include a robust outreach program for neighborhood groups who wish to use the data to advocate for improvements in their neighborhoods.


Elizabeth Morehead
Director of Research and Web Development
Sheila Martin
Director and Professor


February 17, 2012 - June 8, 2012
The Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies at Portland State University has scheduled a series of workshops throughout the Portland metropolitan region to enable community groups to access and... [read more]
February 29, 2012 - March 2, 2012
The Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies at Portland State University will host the NNIP meeting in Portland February 29 - March 2. Portland will highlight its history of regional governance... [read more]
January 2012
Greater Portland Pulse recently updated the following indicators: Unemployment Rate: How does the unemployment rate in the greater Portland region compare to the national unemployment rate... [read more]

Partner Webinars

April 4, 2012

Organizations: Community Information Now (CI:NOW), The Piton Foundation, Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies
Following up on the success of the Media session in Portland, we are pleased to announce “Storytelling through Community Journalism”, the first in our "NNIP and Media"... [read more]

Presenters: Charlotte-Anne Lucas, Meg Merrick, Jordan Wirfs-Brock