Tracking Data For the Community

Author: CCI Staff

Ci Computer

In summer 2020, the Center for Civic Innovation launched its first dataMichiana intern team. dataMichiana is a civic data portal being developed in partnership with Notre Dame’s Lucy Family Institute for Data and Society and the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship as part of building data intermediary resources in the region -- following the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership model. The 2020 intern team was tasked with mapping information related to housing insecurity and education. This issue has implications for a broad range of outcomes -- not only educational attainment but also life chances and health and wellness. Since the initial project, a CCI Winter Internship team and this summer’s CCI intern team continues to build out the dataMichiana platform to make regional information more accessible. 

At the start of the 2020 summer project, interns met with a group of local professionals and advocates in the areas of health, education, law, and race to gain an understanding of some of the important issues in the region. This community panel was made up of a team from the Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center, University of Notre Dame Economic Justice Clinic, South Bend Empowerment Zone, and South Bend Community Investment. Interns worked with these partners to create a wishlist of visualizations to highlight potential relationships between some of the issues the community panel identified. One challenge that threaded through many different efforts was housing insecurity. Since housing insecurity is difficult to measure, a cluster of  data was explored to be used as a proxy - including formal eviction rates and school mobility rates. The summer 2020 dataMichana team focused on eviction data against school information (e.g. suspensions, free and reduced lunch, graduation rates) to visualize how housing instability in students’ lives might impact their educational outcomes. 

The CCI’s winter intern team continued this work by mapping school mobility rates against income and racial data for four counties in the Michiana region - St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, and LaPorte. The aim was to provide easily accessible data for assessing disproportionality of impacts; this allows for targeting resources toward high-mobility schools. To further this work and make issues more easily understood through data, the dataMichiana 2021 summer intern team is drawing from the visualization wishlist for community-identifed issues to create data storyboards, and add base layers to the counties. Storyboards are a combination of issue narrative, data interpretation, and data visualization, which helps make the factors in complex issues more visible. In developing these, students met with a number of local partners to learn about how data is used, as well as barriers to access and use.

Throughout this effort, interns were guided by Matthew Sisk with the Notre Dame Center for Digital Scholarship, and Danielle Wood with CCI. Elizabeth Maradik from City of South Bend Community Investment served as a professional mentor and Ben Brubaker from Riley High School served as project lead. As the effort moves forward, the intention is to have a CCI intern team working with dataMichiana each summer to continue to make data more accessible to the region.