Code for America, the non-profit that works with tech geeks to make government more effective, is at it again. Fresh off the Apps for Detroit Challenge, they’ll partner with Vanguard CDC and Data Driven Detroit to launch the beta version of its LocalData App. The app will increase the the capacity of community groups to “capture and visualize neighborhood-level data” on residential, commercial and industrial property as well as the status of vacant land.
Does surveying the city sound familiar?
In 2009, the Data Collaborative, a partnership with the Detroit Office of Foreclosure Prevention and Response, Michigan Community Resources (formerly known as Community Legal Resources) and Data Driven Detroit implemented the Detroit Residential Parcel Survey (DRPS). DRPS, which existed in paper format only, helped to document the condition of 350,000 single-family houses and its results aided government leaders, community leaders and civic boosters in creating strategies to arrest decline and stabilize neighborhoods.
While the DRPS was viewed widely as a success, improvements were easily identifiable. How can technology make the process more efficient? How can stakeholders get the results quicker? How can community groups be have more ownership in the process?
The Go Local Data App helps to address many of these questions. The web-based app will enable residents to survey property conditions using smartphones or tablets and for those less tech-savvy paper surveys outfitted with a QR code are available. According to Eleanore Eveleth, Vanguard’s Project Consultant, “The tool created by Code for America empowers community-based organizations to more easily and directly collect, manage, and utilize information. This tool will be invaluable in helping groups build self-reliance and implementing programs for change and revitalization in their neighborhoods.”
With support from Detroit LISC, Vanguard CDC will train North End residents on the app this week and pilot it to conduct its North End Parcel Survey over several days in September. The pilot area, whose boundaries include I-94, Woodward Avenue, Euclid and Oakland Avenue/Hastings, consists of approximately 500 parcels.
Stefen Welch, Vanguard’s Director of Community Development, underscored the importance of the project in helping to eliminate the digital divide. “This is a great opportunity to link residents and their families to technology for their benefit and for the benefit of the North End.”