Every day, our city governments collect an enormous amount of administrative data, ranging from local property tax assessments, 911 emergency response calls, social assistance recipients and more.

These data can help enhance resident’s quality of life and can also stimulate economic growth around your neighborhood. Local governments have created “smart cities” which collects data to enhance livability, workability, and sustainability.

But most cities still didn’t implement this kind of data gathering as they lack the technical capacity and the resources to perform these kind of data gathering are limited.

Start with Existing Data

Some local governments overlook their administrative data, which results to being left behind on discovering innovative ways to solve their problems. Using data provides a valuable way to know what the problem is about, can gain access to such solutions, and how it can predict future outcomes.

In 2015, Arlington demographers wanted to know the demographic and economic diversity of housing in local neighborhoods. Understanding this can help these demographers to plan school enrollments and adjust future school boundaries.

There’s also what we call Housing Value Information. This type of data gathering is an excellent proxy to create diversity as it represents the wealth of each household.

Using these data is a great way to measure diversity, down to the census level or even smaller than that. Diversity was calculated by computing the probability of two housing values where they differ in home value which are selected at random from the geographic area. A higher score means a more diverse the home values are in that region.

City demographers can use this information to explore available housing opportunities and can also use this information to relate back to younger families with children, whose income is less than average compared to other families. The higher the economic diversity, the more opportunities for each and every one. It also helped them plan for school age enrollments by age.

Using All Data

Local officials has data which are connected with easy to access outside resources such as social media and state or federal databases. Combining this with Government decisions can result to a holistic view of our neighborhoods.

Such example is the Arlington fire chief. He can use his data on the current placement of equipment and personnel to improve the situational awareness of his fire department operations.

Normally, we look at what time an incident will happen and how they were responded to. The response time in relation to the distance from the call looks the same across different stations. But by using data, and controlling its different kinds of aspects such as month, hour of day, and call type, we can see that the highest response time are for calls are for hazardous materials investigation, highway calls, and wire-down incidents.

These data helped the fire chief to look at when such incidents will occur and decide where to dispatch fire or medic units and when to have more firefighters to have in the scene.

Scaling Our Work

Today, there are a lot of cities that take advantage of administrative data to help the neighborhood. For example, in San Francisco, the Department of Public Health partnered with the private sector to inform the public about some health issues that can be seen in public health data and local data. What they did for example is adding City Restaurant Inspections ratings to Yelp Restaurant ratings. Another example is in Alburquerque, New Mexico. Where universities and local governments worked together to fully understand the size, composition, and behavior for those who have been arrested many times.