Smart Policy-Making Requires Dynamic Data Analysis
By Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development and Microfinance and Maggie McCullough, President, PolicyMap October 17, 2012 02:30 PM
Public policy decisions that impact the communities we serve are not always made with the benefit of accurate, targeted data. The irregular borders of Congressional districts force policy practitioners to cull data from a range of sources across overlapping geographies to produce an inherently incomplete picture of economic, employment, financial, educational and housing conditions at the district level.
Policymakers and community groups alike need more granular and more accurate data in order to understand the similarities and disparities between districts and make recommendations that will impact their constituents' lives.
That's why Citi Community Development and PolicyMap have worked together to create a new interactive, web-based tool - My District Data - that forges a critical link between federal decisions and local accountability. My District Data aggregates data from 10 sources in one easy-to-use platform that presents a clear and reliable state-of-the-district analysis, and users can compare district-level statistics against national benchmarks.
For example, while building a clear understanding of a state's jobs situation is relatively straightforward -- as much of this data is often collected and presented at the state level -- state-level data can mask significant variation between congressional districts. In Florida, for instance, the statewide unemployment rate is 9 percent, compared with a 7.8 percent national rate. However, unemployment rates at congressional districts within Florida range from 7.5 percent to 15.3 percent. The tool produces consistent reports based on statistics that generate a clear understanding in a matter of seconds.
Developed for legislators and their advisers, as well as community organizations and local residents, the free tool aggregates a range of data, for the first time broken down to match the Congressional district. The inaugural My District Data report, the first in an ongoing series, focuses on workforce and jobs and offers district-level information on labor force and employment, workforce demographics, business climate, and educational environment.
My District Data complements the important data analysis work of the CFED Assets & Opportunity Scorecard as well as the FDIC Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households and the recent US Census report on poverty and income - and adds value by pinpointing similarities and disparities at the Congressional district level for the first time. Working together, PolicyMap and Citi Community Development have developed a powerful tool that equips both decision-makers and the general public with strong, reliable and current data that will drive smart policy-making.