Mapping Utility Justice

How might we visualize residential utility access for policymaking and advocacy?


In many parts of the world, aging infrastructure is affecting millions of residents’ access to basic energy and water utilities.

The need to repair and invest in better infrastructure has, in many cases, impacted residential utility rates and overburdened low- income households struggling to afford rising rates.

Households that fall into debt on utilities are at increased risk of having their water or energy service shutoff, which leaves them with no access to basic water and energy resources in place of previously unreliable access.


Mapping Utility Justice is a project in post-industrial cities around the world which aims to map the critical parameters which can affect how residents access water and energy through their municipalities, which include:

  • The distribution of piping and transmission lines
  • Age of infrastructure
  • Average utility costs
  • Rates and locations of service shutoffs
By visualizing where access is impacted and detailing what factors are leading to reduced access, this study can serve as an interactive tool for both activists and legislators in planning how to ensure equitable access to basic resources in their cities. Stakeholder narratives exposing the realities of life without water and energy in post-industrial cities will also be included to provide a critical look at the importance of utility justice for human welfare.

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