5 ways open data can improve opportunities for economic mobility

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.
Wed, 2016-06-29 13:45 -- Compassionate C...

It really is incredible to see the progress that has been made since governments started opening up data and allowing developers, entrepreneurs and the like to use it for the public good (or simply to make a buck).  The piece below about a recent federal initiative is another example of how all that data stored in government agencies can do so much when it is unleashed. Note at the bottom of this page we linked the Smart Cities Open Data Guide, a primer for cities just getting started on open data initiatives. -- Philip Bane

 "Where you live can have enormous implications for your family’s economic stability and upward mobility," says Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. "A family may be able to find an affordable home to buy or rent, but if it’s far from quality jobs, highly-rated schools and other amenities, it could hinder the family’s chances to get ahead."

That's why the Seattle-based real estate brokerage developed Opportunity Score, a rating from 0 to 100 that measures the number of jobs within a 30-minute, car-free commute from a given address.

Opportunity Score is Redfin’s contribution to The Opportunity Project, an initiative announced earlier this year by the Obama Administration to encourage local leaders, technologists and citizens to use open government data to develop tools at the neighborhood level that can improve economic mobility and help families find affordable housing.

The Redfin tool is currently available in 350 cities across the U.S. and of those, ranks San Jose, Milwaukee and Albuquerque as the most accessible U.S. cities for workers without a car. Opportunity Score incorporates employment data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, transit network data from Walk Score and Redfin's own housing data.

More digital tools
Tools developed with The Opportunity Project data are coming from both the public and private sector; some are city-specific, others are broader. Here's a brief look at a few more of them; you can learn about others here:

  • Transit-analyst calculates transit accessibility to community assets such as Head Start centers, health clinics, healthy corner stores, daycare and playgrounds. It was developed by Azavea, a Philadelphia-based B Corporation that builds geospatial software for civic and social impact.
  • How Affordable is Opportunity uses data and story maps to reveal racial and ethnic inequities in the "cost" of neighborhood opportunity for children. Diversity.data.kids.org, which developed the tool, currently covers 16 metro areas with more anticipated.
  • Opportunity Badge identifies high-performing schools given the cost of living in the neighborhood and shows how schools provide access to opportunity, broken down by race and ethnicity. Developed by the nonprofit GreatSchools, the tool was designed to help parents make the best decisions possible for their children.
  • PolicyMap Opportunity Tool helps users in Philadelphia, where the company is located, identify areas of opportunity in their city that reflect characteristics and amenities that are most important to them – for instance, housing, education, jobs, transportation and demographic criteria.

Related topics…
What a compassionate public transit system can mean for a city's poor
Video: One Home - a free affordable housing search tool in the Bay Area
Smart Cities Open Data Guide


This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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