As a local elected official, my council colleagues and I have the benefit of having access to data that informs our planning and decisions.
For example, after the great recession, we learned the hard way that our over-reliance on sales tax revenue was not sustainable.
So, we directed our city staff to look for additional sources of revenue to diversify our revenue streams.
We wanted to diversify our revenue so that we could continue to invest public resources into necessary municipal services to our residents, such as public safety and infrastructure.
But in order to come to that decision, we looked towards the data to inform us to help make a change.
Our Neighboring City of Long Beach and Their Effort to Create Change
Our neighboring city, Long Beach, California, is a city of nearly 500,000 residents. Long Beach is also the seventh largest city in California.
They, too, are also working hard to recover from the great recession.
My friend and colleague, Dr. Alex J. Norman with Dr. William J. Crampon published the Long Beach Equity Atlas: Geographical Opportunity, in which they suggest that “a total community effort” is needed.
This “total community effort” can address issues of poverty and lack of educational attainment across certain geographic areas of Long Beach.
Simply put, this is an opportunity for the city to invest in its residents, an opportunity for the city to make a change.
In the Long Beach Equity Atlas, they explore, examine, and analyze:
- the geographic distribution of ethnic populations,
- access to opportunities,
- and the relationships among them.
The Atlas strives to discover the uneven distribution of those resources across Long Beach and the limited access to those opportunities by ethnic populations in Long Beach.
Now, over to you. How can you use data to create change?
How can we in our own communities collect, examine, and analyze publicly-available data to inform our own change-efforts?
Who will present this data to our local decision-makers so that they can make informed decisions that promote investment in people and their neighborhoods?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.