OpenDataCincinnati

Community website for regional & government data to encourage transparency, innovation & civic engagement.
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Living in Clifton a few years back, I noticed a family of rats had formed a small community in the courtyard of my apartment building, near a dumpster. I loved Clifton, but I wasn’t sure the neighborhood was right for the rats (they just didn’t seem interested in what was playing at The Esquire), so when I got inside I shot an email to my property manager. The next afternoon, the rats were gone. The city of Cincinnati never knew about these rats (much less the family farm that I’m sure took them in). I didn’t file a report with city services, and I’m sure my property manager didn’t, either. So, in a sense – and I don’t mean to get philosophical here, but it’s about to happen so watch out – it’s like they didn’t exist.

For the past couple months I’ve been exploring whether the city of Cincinnati’s 311 data can be used to predict when and where the next infestation of rats, mice, or roaches will occur in the city’s 52 neighborhoods. (Cincinnati also has a severe bed bug problem, but I’m saving that issue for another day.) As you can imagine, it’s been tough slogging – partly, I think, due to stories like the one I described above (i.e. the case of the rats that never were), but mostly because it’s difficult to account for all of the factors that attract rats to one location but keep them far away from another. At the same time, I’ve made a number of interesting discoveries that could prove useful in preventing breakouts in Cincinnati.

For instance, the most reliable predictor of a future infestation-related 311 request is a previous infestation-related 311 request received within the same neighborhood sometime in the previous seven days. Given what we all know about rats – that the only thing that multiplies faster are breweries in OTR – this finding doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but it is nonetheless useful from a modeling perspective, and also suggests that the city should not treat infestations in isolation. If rats, mice, or roaches are reported in a house in Oakley, then the surrounding block should at the very least receive information about prevention.

Pairing the city’s 311 data with data from the American Community Survey has also allowed me to examine whether factors such as population density, per capita income, poverty rates, and access to resources such as quality schools and health care help explain why different neighborhoods in Cincinnati respond differently to the various triggers of infestation (they do), which not only increases the reliability of my model but also increases its usefulness. For instance, I’ve got pretty strong evidence that suggests the city should not simply respond to requests on a “first reported, first served” basis; instead, precedence should be given to whatever request carries with it the highest risk of causing more infestations, be it for reasons of geography, affluence, or prior infestations at that same address. This approach would not only direct the city’s resources toward the people who need them most, but would also allow the city to use those resources more efficiently since treating one breakout in a neighborhood would be less costly than treating multiple.

Finally, I should point out that I’m not the first to approach this problem using 311 data. Data Analysts in Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology (in partnership with Carnegie Mellon’s Event and Pattern Detection Laboratory) took a similar approach to modelling the Chicago’s rodent infestations, and in 2013 – the year the city put the DoIT’s results into use – requests for rodent control services dropped by 15%. The work I’ve done with Cincinnati’s 311 data suggests that wouldn’t be an unreasonable goal here.


Kevin Haynes has a Masters in Applied Economics from the University of Cincinnati. He works as a Data Analyst for a national education non-profit called TNTP and can be reached at khaynes17@gmail.com.

As the ability to code, or use programming languages to build sites and apps, becomes more in demand, technical skills are no longer just for IT professionals.

erinmkidwell:

To prepare for the Open Data Startup Weekend event, I’ve been reading The Innovators Solution, which makes me think in more depth about the benefit of open data and open source technology to networks, communities, and organizations.

image

Let’s start by focusing on open source…


GOPC Testifies on the DataOhio Initiative
On January 29th, Greater Ohio’s Alison Goebel gave interested party testimony on a package of bills that would create the “DataOhio Initiative.”  Introduced by Representatives Duffey (R-Worthington) and Hagan (R-Alliance), the DataOhio Initiative will help local governments standardize information about themselves and develop a clearinghouse where information about local and state governments can be easily located.
GOPC has long expressed concern regarding the lack of standardized data in Ohio.  We believe the DataOhio Initiative will provide the first crucial step to creating the tools local governments and the state need to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions.These decisions should help communities modernize procedures, maximize resources, attract jobs and businesses, and plan for sustainable, prosperous futures.
GOPC is excited about the possibility DataOhio holds to help government officials find underutilized dollars through “apples to apples” comparisons with their peers and the  ability to use the data to systematically uncover opportunities to share services and implement best practices.
HB 321’s requirement to de-silo information and make information machine-readable is essential for any data analysis.  The creation of a DataOhio Board ensures there is a face to the Initiative and a resource for participating entities.
HB 322’s requirement to use a uniform accounting standard allows communities, researchers, private citizens and funding sources to track performance over time.  More importantly, a mechanism that creates apples to apples comparisons helps identify best practices and opportunities for government efficiencies and cost savings.
By gathering and indexing the universe of data available in Ohio, HB 323 will enrich and strengthen research while also saving users time.
Last, and perhaps most important, HB 324 assists communities in meeting these requirements.  The cost savings and opportunities to share services or resources that will arise from a methodical understanding of our local governments will more than make up the foregone revenue of the Grant program.
To take the necessary steps that will ensure the long term sustainability, economic competitiveness, and physical attractiveness of our communities, decisions and development strategies must be data-driven and evidence-based.  GOPC is pleased to see that DataOhio holds the possibilities of providing that crucial information.

GOPC Testifies on the DataOhio Initiative

On January 29th, Greater Ohio’s Alison Goebel gave interested party testimony on a package of bills that would create the “DataOhio Initiative.”  Introduced by Representatives Duffey (R-Worthington) and Hagan (R-Alliance), the DataOhio Initiative will help local governments standardize information about themselves and develop a clearinghouse where information about local and state governments can be easily located.

GOPC has long expressed concern regarding the lack of standardized data in Ohio.  We believe the DataOhio Initiative will provide the first crucial step to creating the tools local governments and the state need to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions.These decisions should help communities modernize procedures, maximize resources, attract jobs and businesses, and plan for sustainable, prosperous futures.

GOPC is excited about the possibility DataOhio holds to help government officials find underutilized dollars through “apples to apples” comparisons with their peers and the  ability to use the data to systematically uncover opportunities to share services and implement best practices.

  • HB 321’s requirement to de-silo information and make information machine-readable is essential for any data analysis.  The creation of a DataOhio Board ensures there is a face to the Initiative and a resource for participating entities.
  • HB 322’s requirement to use a uniform accounting standard allows communities, researchers, private citizens and funding sources to track performance over time.  More importantly, a mechanism that creates apples to apples comparisons helps identify best practices and opportunities for government efficiencies and cost savings.
  • By gathering and indexing the universe of data available in Ohio, HB 323 will enrich and strengthen research while also saving users time.
  • Last, and perhaps most important, HB 324 assists communities in meeting these requirements.  The cost savings and opportunities to share services or resources that will arise from a methodical understanding of our local governments will more than make up the foregone revenue of the Grant program.

To take the necessary steps that will ensure the long term sustainability, economic competitiveness, and physical attractiveness of our communities, decisions and development strategies must be data-driven and evidence-based.  GOPC is pleased to see that DataOhio holds the possibilities of providing that crucial information.

codeforamerica:

Watch and listen to Jeff present open source software to a local audience including members of his local government. Be like Jeff.

Check out the Open Innovation quarterly magazine published by Socrata. 

"Urbanists and planners, if you really want to embrace technology and innovation, I’d suggest thinking of it not just as matters of civic enhancement — smart apps, parklets, etc. — but as being willing to radically reinvision every structure, norm, and practice that makes up our place. It means extending from local place-making to an infinite frontier of discovery and reinvention; letting no incumbent interest or assumption be sacrosanct or able to escape challenge and alternative proposal, and experimenting and iterating and letting the better outcome win. It means letting proposals be heard and tried, and a hundred flowers bloom, not just a few flowers that the ‘community’ and the ‘stakeholders’ consider within the circle of plausibility.”

from What Urban Planning Hasn’t Learned From Tech

 ”Open data is the raw material of a city, the vital signs of what has happened there, what is happening right now, and the deep pool of patterns for what might happen next.

Vibrant, safe public spaces; shared, multimodal streets; exemplary education systems that propel people from early childhood through post-secondary; affordable housing — these are the issues that make or break cities. Or, put another way, these are the problems worth solving because they are worth a lot. Yes, in economic terms. Venture capital is all about risk and return. That risk (and potential incredible reward) is splayed out in every city in America.”

from When Tech Culture and Urbanism Collide

"The new social innovation is about working with and for government, not just acting in spite of it. And as for other civic issues, perhaps the people who are going to unlock those challenges are sitting in this room today. You have the opportunity to get in while of the people, for the people, and by the people is about to take on a wholly reinvigorated meaning.

The next wave of civic innovation is here and I would encourage you to get involved.”

A story about finding the narrative in numbers, via Nieman Journalism Lab.

On one story, [Raquel Rutledge, investigative reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] had a stack of 1,800 PDFs and wanted to tally one field of data from each record to determine the public burden imposed by a tax subsidy. Counting manually was a waste of time, but no one in government said they had the total.

“I just wanted this one number, this one field, but I wanted it for all 1,800,” Rutledge said. “Well, this 23-year-old dude comes out, writes a little code, and boom-boom-boom-bam: In a couple of hours we have a number that no one had ever seen before.

It was a $29 million program. A $29 million burden on the rest of the state. I requested it a million different ways from county people and no one had ever counted it. That is such a huge public service. Hiring that kid was just one of the best things you could do.”