Sixty five percent of people in the United States seek out government resources when looking for data; unfortunately, only ten percent actually find what they’re looking for. Recognizing this captive audience and the need for transparency in public institutions, many agencies have sought to engage residents in their local communities by making data resources more interactive and accessible to the general public.
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), in particular, brings together local city and county governments to develop data-driven solutions to common problems in transportation, housing, air quality and other issues. Over the last several years, SCAG has improved the accessibility of their research and data on their website and in a recently launched Open Data Portal. To advertise these resources and help get information in the hands of stakeholders, SCAG recently partnered with Esri to host a competition and software training that challenged students in the region to develop their own interactive mapping website on a policy topic of their choice (using Esri’s open source Story Maps platform and SCAG’s Open Data Portal). The competition culminated in an interactive showcase of the top submissions at SCAG’s annual General Assembly in May 2017, which also featured a keynote address from Esri’s co-founder and president, Jack Dangermond. Two winners were selected from local universities by incoming SCAG President Hon. Margaret Finlay and Immediate Past President Hon. Michele Martinez, in conjunction with SCAG staff:
- The Relationship Between Gentrification and Light Rail Transit by Kam Fung Lao from Cal Poly Pomona
- Addressing Passenger-Freight Conflicts in Metropolitan Communities Using GIS by Julia Brown and John Ho from Cal State Long Beach
These entries were selected because of their innovative use of data and analytics on the issues of gentrification, transportation, and goods movement – all topics of regional significance for Southern California. Each submission received a $1,000 scholarship, supplied by Esri and SCAG.