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Detroit Economic and Social Development Doesn’t Have to be a Big Gamble

Last week, we rejoiced when Joe Cada, a 21-year old from Chesterfield Township, won the World Series of Poker Championship in Las Vegas and brought home $8.55 million. One week later, 22-year old Tim Conrad from Taylor won the eighth annual Yahoo! Rock Paper Scissors World Championship in Toronto, taking home $7,000. Just think, the Detroit area is $8,557,000 wealthier today than it was eight days ago and all it took was two people playing games of chance.

I’m happy for this two-man kick for our economy, but of course, we don’t want to depend on chance to spawn economic growth and social development. That’s why we here at the Detroit-Area Community Information System (D-ACIS) are committed to making data available to everyone from block club captains to urban planners. Instead of playing guessing games, our legislators, planners and policymakers can rely on current, trustworthy data to budget for basic services and predict future needs.

Just last month, the Urban Institute selected Detroit to join only 33 other cities that are creating sophisticated, accessible data-sharing networks to help citizens and governments address community problems. Together, the cities form the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership that tracks vital information, including births, deaths, crime, health status, educational performance, public assistance and property conditions. As a member of NNIP, D-ACIS will also be able to compare data with other cities facing similar problems.

Good data can take the guesswork out of planning for the future. Some things just aren’t worth the gamble.