Communities face opportunities and challenges in many areas, including education, health and wellness, workforce and economic development, housing, and the environment. At the same time, governments have fiscal constraints on their ability to address these challenges and opportunities. Through a combination of open government, open data, and civic engagement, however, governments, citizens, civil society groups, and others are reinventing the relationship between governments and the governed by developing crowdsourced and other innovative solutions for community advancement. Underlying this reinvention and innovation is data – particularly local data such as housing, air quality, graduation rates, literacy rates, poverty, disease, and more.
Though data (via large-scale national datasets such as Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control that have varying levels of local granularity, or via locally collected data) have existed in key domain areas for some time, newer data integration capabilities and analytic techniques enable new ways of viewing and analyzing data, and significantly, informing policy-makers, decision-makers, stakeholders, and citizens about their communities and potential ways to resolve challenges and seek opportunities. Often referred to as Big Data, the ability to harness geo-spatial data, chronic disease data, literacy data, and others to create data visualizations, interactive map-based analysis, and more can often shed light on critical community needs, gaps, and solutions.
But in order to engage in these data science efforts; create analytic tools; and foster civic engagement, there are underlying needs such as, but not limited to:
- Central data repositories, where data are stored, maintained, and catalogued.
- Data standards, to which collected data adhere.
- Data communities, which will collect, maintain, and curate data.
- Effective information structure/ecology, through which to foster data communities, engagement, and use.
- Awareness, at the organizational, neighborhood, and individual levels, that data affect their daily well-being and functioning.
CASCI aims to be at the heart of data – and their analysis – to better understanding and improving the communities in which we live.