Ask Kurt – Data Requests
An Interview with Kurt
Q. Can you explain the purpose of Data Driven Detroit?
A. Data Driven Detroit is designed to serve a wide variety of users through its comprehensive regional data collection, analysis and delivery capabilities. D3 intends to bring together the information and individuals that can address a broad variety of issues and conditions facing Detroit and the region. By having more comprehensive, neighborhood-focused data and information, we in the region are in a better position to receive more federal, state and other funding to address vital issues and conditions and improve the quality of life for people in the entire metropolitan Detroit area.
Q. How will D3 be funded?
A. Initial funding for its creation came from a joint three-year, $1.85 million grant, from the Skillman Foundation and Kresge Foundation. This grant came to City Connect Detroit to serve as an incubator and fiduciary to D3. D3 is currently housed with City Connect Detroit in the Barden Building in downtown Detroit. After the initial 3-year incubation, D3 will transition to a self-sustaining entity. It is anticipated that support will derive from a combination of general foundation support, research and analysis projects and product sales.
Q. What neighborhood focused issues will D3 address?
A. The neighborhood focused issues will be detailed down to the parcel level, and will include, parks, recreation and green space; abandoned buildings, vacant land, blight and dumping; retail and services attractions; job availability; poverty; educational opportunities; crime and safety; and health and medical issues. Our plan is to develop a detailed picture of neighborhood health and sustainability across a broad range of topic areas. Such a picture will continue to develop with the collaboration of neighborhood residents and the continuous addition of new datasets, derived from both our work and the work of others in the community.
Q. What are some of the benefits of having D3 in Detroit?
A. In addition to having a region that shares vital information that will benefit all, D3′s membership in the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), which is comprised of 33 urban information and data centers throughout the nation, will allow us to benefit from the experiences of others and to compete for national foundation designated funding opportunities available to members only. This will really put Detroit and the region on the map, so to speak, as far as developing a culture of data sharing for positive change.
Q. What is the biggest challenge that Data Driven Detroit faces?
A. The biggest challenge we have is that of changing the culture around data sharing in the city and region. My 35 years have shown me that people and organizations tend to work in silos - keeping the information they collect close to the vest – and not readily accessible to others. One often hears the reason for this deriving from a concern that information shared will be used in negative ways. We chose the name Data Driven Detroit as a way of demonstrating that the best decisions are those that utilize data – data that are available to and shared with all parties. It is our job to convince people that D3 has no agenda but to improve the quality of life for residents of Detroit and the region.
We also feel that a transparency of better information can help to break down the geographic and racial barriers that have been holding us back for too long. We, as a region, must figure out how to work together – city and suburbs – because this region can’t succeed unless the city of Detroit succeeds.
Q. What is your ultimate goal for Data Driven Detroit?
A. My ultimate goal is for D3 to be a one-stop center, a central clearinghouse, where accurate and complete data and information can be accessed by all. Our success will derive from the region’s success. Data access and use must be both a top down and a bottom up effort. In order to have true community collaboration, all segments of the population must have equal access to the information, and tools must be available that assist in the understanding and utilization of that information. We cannot move this city and this region forward unless all of our residents and institutions are at the table.
This is an outstanding opportunity for Detroit and the region. It’s an opportunity to show that the Detroit region can develop a culture of data sharing, which will allow us to tackle the “data silos” in which we tend to operate.This interview was conducted by Donald James of Master Media.