April Urban, research associate at the Poverty Center, spoke about how to work with Cleveland communities to solve problems with data for the launch of the Sunlight Foundation’s A Guide to Tactical Data Engagement. The guide is a new resource designed to help city leaders and residents collaborate on increasing the social impact of open government data.
Urban spoke in particular about how the Center works with Cleveland communities to solve problems with data, particularly in regard to vacant and abandoned properties in the city.
“Cleveland was hit pretty hard by the foreclosure crisis,” Urban explained, “and this created an environment of people in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County who were interested in understanding data about properties as part of their work to stem this crisis.”
To meet this need, the Poverty Center team built an application to display property-level data — and then iterated on it.
“We built something very quickly, got it out to users, really embedded ourselves in the community to understand what works, [and] what doesn’t,” Urban said, “and we went quickly to a version two that was more of an extensive re-do. We’ve been on version two for a while, with just some minor changes, and are really starting to see the potential for a version 3 as we get more and more embedded in new community problems.”