From the Michigan Metropolitan Information Center (MIMIC) at Wayne State University, to the Southeast Michigan Information Center at United Way (SEMIC), there have been many initiatives to try to collect and democratize data about Detroit and its neighborhoods. More often than not, the initiatives have failed for lack of funding and/or the support of the agencies that were not willing to share information with the public.
However, as Detroit grappled with a deepening recession in the mid-2000s, several foundations needed current accurate data in order to invest their resources in Detroit wisely. They also wanted to measure the impact of their investments.
In 2008, The Skillman Foundation and The Kresge Foundation awarded City Connect Detroit a $ 1.85 M planning and implementation grant to incubate Data Driven Detroit (originally named the Detroit-Area Community Information System). The charge for the newly-formed agency was to become a nonprofit, independent data center that would promote positive community change by:
- Tracking neighborhood-level social, economic and environmental indicators for the local initiatives of key foundations;
- Creating greater community access to and utilization of community data and information; and
- Building a community data warehouse of comprehensive, reliable, relevant information relating to social, economic and environmental indicators.