Methodology
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Field work was conducted by Ball State University students from July 7th to August 21st. Three field teams which each included 2 students worked with a student project manager to complete the inventory.

Guidance: Administrative Indicators


PDAs (personal digital assistants), with the ArcPad GIS (geographical information system) software,
showed detailed maps of the city. These maps indicated where vacancies were likely to be. The indicators were created using information from the following sources

  1. Marion County Health and Hospital (boarding/repair/or demolition orders)
  2. Marion County Treasurer's Office (property tax delinquencies)
  3. Marion County Sheriff's Department (mortgage foreclosure/sheriff sale)
  4. IPL (no electricity for 6 months)

The field work was aided and sometimes guided by the various administrative indicators that potentially indicated a vacancy. Among these indicators were the following sets of data for Marion County : Vacant Building Boarding Orders (Marion County Health and Hospital), Vacant Building Repair or Demolish Orders (Marion County Health and Hospital), Property tax delinquent parcels (Treasurer), Mortgage foreclosure/sheriff sale (Civil Sheriff), and homes without electric service for over six months (IPL). Within the old city limits, these indicators aided in the identification of vacant buildings, however due to a higher incidence of vacant houses, the survey team inventoried the area building by building. Outside these limits, the survey teams were guided by the indicators to specific properties instead of searching building by building.

The following map of Marion County shows the area surveyed by the teams.  Green depicts the old city limits of Indianapolis and orange the survey area.

Survey Coverage Area

Survey Coverage Area

Data collection


Survey teams collected five pieces of information on each building that was surveyed (the number of units, vacancy status, building condition, site condition, and a digital photograph).

  1. The number of dwelling units (usually one or two) that the building contained was noted and then the information below was collected for each unit within a structure that contained a vacancy.
  2. The status of the vacancy was collected for each property in the survey. There was a tiered system for classifying these properties. If a property was vacant, it could also be boarded or for sale. For this reason, we created three categories: Vacant, Vacant for Sale , and Vacant/Boarded. If a property was deemed as Vacant and boarded, it could also be for sale. However, if the building was rated as Vacant for Sale then it was identified as such, which also indicates that it is not boarded.
  3. The third piece of data that we collected was a condition rating for the structure of the building. This rating system included an 'A' through 'E' rating scale. An 'A' rating was given to homes in excellent condition. A 'C' rating was the middle of the scale and included homes that needed minor rehabilitation while an 'E' rating was given to homes that were severely dilapidated.
  4. The condition of the site surrounding the building was also collected. The rating system used for this was a very simple good, fair or poor scale. A 'good' yard is well maintained while a 'poor' yard has overgrown weeds or contains dangerous trash and debris.
    5. The last piece of information that was collected on each property was a digital photograph of the façade of the building.

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

PDA with sample screenshot from the survey