Accessing and analyzing data is a critical component of building neighborhood capacity. Data helps communities validate community assets and challenges, identify effective solutions and track progress toward achieving results. At the neighborhood level, this often requires developing new systems and relationships to gather information. At this city level, this entails aggregating and communicating data that can allow for neighborhood-by-neighborhood comparisons and provide a larger regional perspective.
The Atlantic’s Cities Blog recently highlighted Los Angeles’ (LA) leadership role in connecting neighborhoods with data. As part of an effort to add a health and wellness dimension to the city’s General Plan, LA has launched a neighborhood data portal that allows users to map metrics related to health, as well as a diverse range of quality-of-life issues including education, transportation, crime and housing. The portal draws upon data from the city’s Health Atlas, which “highlights the geographic concentration of health disparities” in LA and illustrates the power of place to influence residents’ well-being.
Neighborhoods have important opportunities to generate data about what happens within their borders, including gathering information from those who live and work in the community. However, as LA’s data work showcases, cities can help neighborhoods access administrative data from city agencies and beyond, providing valuable context to local efforts and a potential source of longitudinal data capturing change over time.