Director Erica Raleigh Shares Her “Top Ten” from NNIP Meeting

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) meeting in St. Louis. For readers who don’t know, D3 has been the Detroit NNIP partner since 2009, and we are now one of nearly 40 partner organizations across the country. NNIP is a collaborative effort by the Urban Institute and a number of partners to further the development and use of neighborhood information systems in local policymaking and community building. Bottom line: we are all about democratizing information.

One of the most useful aspects of NNIP is our biannual meeting of the full partnership. It includes presentations on individual partner work, updates on projects, workshops on new data sources, and discussions about the direction of the partnership. It’s also an opportunity to learn, to share, and to really geek out on data.

I want to take a moment to share with all of you some of the things I learned in St. Louis from partner presentations and conversation with NNIP colleagues.

My top ten, in no particular order…

Diversity as a neighborhood asset

Todd Swanstrom and Hank Webber assess whether “gentrification” operates differently in legacy cities. Their research on the topic in the St. Louis metropolitan area does not fit the dominant view of low-income and minority residents being pushed out as local culture and consumption patterns are taken over by upwardly mobile professionals. For example, the Central West End, widely considered the most successful rebound neighborhood in St. Louis, is still remarkably diverse both racially and economically.

Data Quality Campaign

Education stakeholders – from parents to policymakers – are too often forced to make decisions based on anecdote and hunch because they do not have access to high-quality information. The Data Quality Campaign hopes to change that by providing a forum to facilitate sharing and to make data integral to education policy.


A Code for America team built this simple system for submitting requests for public data to the City of Oakland. It not only makes it easy to submit a request, but also to find requests submitted by others and the responses, thus reducing the workload for public data request fulfillment.

Open Knowledge Foundation Data Package

The Open Knowledge Foundation has created a very cool package for obtaining and sharing data, providing a base structure on which tooling and integration can build, and making it easy to use and publish data packages from existing apps and workflows.

More local data options

In Detroit, we already know about LocalData and Loveland TECHNOLOGIES, but there are at least two more data options for locals. OpenDataKit is an open-source suite of tools that helps organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. EpiCollect provides a web and mobile app for the generation of forms and freely hosted project websites for data collection.

Linking demolitions and property values

This isn’t necessarily new information, but I was pleased to see Mike Schramm’s fantastic presentation on quantifying the link between demolition and property values in Cleveland. The study is the reason Hardest Hit Fund dollars were released from existing TARP funds, providing the main source of demolition capital for Detroit next year.

More valuable insights from Cleveland

April Hirsch examines outcomes for purchased properties by type, size, and location of investors. Analyzing data from Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Las Vegas, she finds that properties acquired by non-profits, land banks, or government are three times more likely to succeed than those acquired by all private investors, while large scale investors are five times more likely to fail.

Ownership information at the property level

Max Weselcouch presented a fascinating new way to handle ownership information at the property level, which can be a daunting task when a city is trying to enforce codes, identify troubled properties, or protect tenants from negligent landlords.

Open Data Policies

Emily Shaw presented on the evolution of the Sunlight Foundation’s local policy guidelines, thoughts on addressing concerns about liability confidentiality, and the growing role of non-governmental organizations in publishing data.

Summer Reading

Books by Steve Krug about usability and accessibility are on top of my to-read list. Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do it Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems explains everything you need to know to start testing before building a website, application, or software. Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is a quick study on the principles of intuitive navigation and information design, updated with a new chapter on mobile usability. I’m looking forward to reading both!

Are you familiar with any of the topics above? Leave your thoughts or questions in the comments below.