The National Neighborhood Indicators Project in San Antonio

April 10, 2016 12:47 pm

DataSpark returned to Texas–this time to San Antonio–for the April meeting of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP). Our San Antonio host was Community Information:Now (CI:NOW), a longtime NNIP partner with a similar mission to our own: to find, collect, link and analyze, and visually display data that residents need to improve neighborhood and regional conditions. Like DataSpark, they’ve been building their online community data resources in response to loads of interest from local organizations and decision-makers. Like DataSpark, they’ve found that funding to build these resources is easier to find than funding the maintain and continually update these resources. With representatives from many of the 30 other NNIP partner cities who are engaged in similar work, we talked about some of those challenges at the 3-day meeting, as well as other cool stuff like:

  • Using Leaflet, an open-source mapping app that is basically a Javascript library of user-edited code. Leaflet renders mobile-friendly interactive maps with a lot of flexibility through available plug-ins; our RI Community Profiles are built in Leaflet.
  • Internal data management and using Census APIs or other automated recalculations of published data. APIs (application program interfaces) require a lot of upfront investment but can cut down on the long-term maintenance costs that we lament above…
  • HUD’s new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which makes illegal actions that lead to disparate housing impact regardless of the intent to discriminate. Being city-based, many of our NNIP partners are involved in analysis of housing data and fair housing advocacy.

There was also a lot of discussion about integrated data systems like Rhode Island’s own RI DataHUB, which is our state’s most comprehensive “data warehouse” taking in and linking records across state agencies.  The ability to reduce data silos and understand how housing, educational, health, and other experiences jointly affect people over the life course is increasingly seen as critical in making policy decisions. Other cities and states are interested in the model the DataHUB provides along with IDS in cities like New York and Cleveland.

We learn so much from these biannual meetings with organizations doing exactly the same kinds of work as us. Looking forward to the next meeting in October 2016!