The potential power of data is maximized when local decision makers from multiple sectors continuously track indicators to identify which strategies are having an impact and which are not, with resources then redirected accordingly. This blog post from Living Cities describes three themes for how cities can harness neighborhood-level data to lead collective impact for systems change.
DATA! DATA! DATA!  
 
          Data can be a powerful tool for transforming the systems that perpetuate urban poverty. It allows us to understand current conditions, identify problems, set goals, and track progress for sustained impact. That said, our ability to use data as a tool for systems change is complicated by several factors that still need to be addressed.
 
          The potential power of data is maximized when local decision makers from multiple sectors form a collective impact partnership to tackle complex social problems. In these cases, data is used to continuously track indicators to identify which strategies are having an impact and which are not (with resources then redirected accordingly). Data is already being used in this way to improve educational outcomes in collective impact cradle-to-career partnerships across the country. While these efforts aim to prepare low income people to take advantage of future opportunities, we also need to consider how the cities and neighborhoods where low income people live in enable them to ‘connect’ to opportunities. But identifying, collecting, and tracking the right data can be trickier when you move away from individuals as units of analysis, and begin to instead look at places.
 
          To learn about how communities around the country are using data to track neighborhood-level outcomes, I recently attended an annual meeting of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP)  a network run by the Urban Institute of 37 data intermediary partners who are working to build local information systems, compile data publically for practical use, and support local capacity to improve low-income neighborhoods. By focusing on neighborhood-level data, local NNIP partners shed light on the importance of place in improving the lives of low-income people and the communities where they live.
 
 
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