KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s a new tool helping Kansas City better understand its progress and growth.

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) is pulling together a lot of data, helping figure out what help the metro needs and where programs to address those needs should happen.

The map is called the Economic Equity Value Atlas (EEVA), and it tracks more than 100 types of data throughout the metro. It makes it a lot easier to see which parts of town are thriving and which parts aren’t.

“When we identify a problem that’s clearly shown in the metrics, then it becomes a rallying cry for what we are going to do about it,” MARC Director of Research Services Frank Lenk said.

Lenk pulled the data together for the EEVA and, through a series of clicks, shows how the map’s data can tell a variety of stories about communities all over the KC metro.

One example is showing how the amount of people applying for home ownership loans is relatively uniform across much of Johnson County, Kansas, and Jackson County, Missouri.

But when looking at how often those applications are denied, the atlas shows denials are much more common in communities that have also been redlined and disinvested in throughout Kansas City’s history.

Lenk said stark contrasts like that show the same communities can keep struggling through time, even when intentional efforts to hold them back are less common.

“We have more of a systemic problem that will require a more systemic solution,” Fenk said. “It’s something that we need to come together to solve. No one can solve it on their own.”

Fenk also demonstrated how the largest population increases are about 15-20 minutes outside the core of the city, showing a continued move to the suburbs that has been happening in the metro for years.

But the data also shows movement into the very center of the urban core where new development has, for the first time in years, created an increasing population in the center of the city.

However, other data shows that spending on roads and bridges remains more common on the edges of the suburbs, suggesting that the suburban sprawl will only continue.

The city of Kansas City is using the atlas as it tries to improve communities along the Prospect Avenue Max route as part of its ProspectUs project.

Kansas City Planning Director Jeffrey Williams said it gives the city a way to know if its plans are working and a way for citizens to hold the city accountable.

“With tools like EEVA, it gives you a number to shoot for, a target, a measure,” Williams said. “It sets a base, and it’s a way to measure how we are growing.”

The goal is to make sure that programs meant to help the community reach the right locations, but also as a way to make sure that growth doesn’t happen at the expense of some communities or leave parts of the metro behind.

“In total, Kansas City, Missouri, needs to be a wholly-equitable, accessible, welcoming community,” Williams said.