connect / 2018

Leveraging Neighborhood Data to Activate Local Change

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Activation Challenge by University of Southern California

Neighborhood Data for Social Change empowers civic actors to learn about trends, challenges, and opportunities facing LA County neighborhoods through maps, charts, data analysis, and storytelling.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

The Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) platform will activate informed and engaged LA County neighborhoods through data analysis and storytelling. By empowering civic actors to better tell their stories of neighborhood-level shifts, changes, and challenges, NDSC will activate nonprofits, advocacy groups, government agencies, neighborhood councils, and other stakeholders to make data-informed decisions to improve the quality of life for low-income residents and families.

Which of the connect metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Travel time to work
  • Number of public transit riders
  • Participation in neighborhood councils

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the best place to LEARN
  • LA is the best place to CREATE
  • LA is the best place to PLAY
  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • Antelope Valley
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Advocate for policy
  • Digital organizing or activism
  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Create new tools or technologies for greater civic/political engagement
  • Increase participation in political processes

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to connect?

LA County is home to 10 million people with unique stories and circumstances, each of whom strives to make their communities the very best version of what they can be. Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) will make LA the best place to connect by equipping civic actors with information needed to contribute meaningfully in civic processes.

NDSC serves neighborhoods throughout LA County with high-quality and policy relevant data at the neighborhood level. It enables local nonprofits, government agencies, neighborhood councils, advocacy groups, and civic institutions to make data-informed decisions to improve the quality of life within their neighborhood. NDSC directly impacts the LA2050 metrics that help measure and support efforts to make LA the best place to Connect. In fact, multiple metrics for the Connect goal exist as distinct indicators within the platform, including: travel time to work, number of public transit riders, social connectedness, and voter registration. NDSC allows users to understand, measure, and track these indicators across the entire County, or by specific neighborhoods. Data can be viewed down to the census tract level, making NDSC a powerful tool to understand how connectedness varies across different neighborhoods. Users can even create their own custom neighborhoods by joining census tracts and tracking aggregated data.

However, NDSC is not only about producing data. The platform empowers civic actors to better tell their stories, voice their opinions, and influence key decision-makers through the production of bi-weekly data stories produced in partnership with community based organizations and published by NDSC’s official media partner, KCETLink. Data stories incorporate maps, visualizations, photos, and rich narrative that highlight trends, opportunities, and challenges facing communities in the LA region. These data stories offer a powerful vehicle to advance additional Connect metrics, offering a platform to advocate for a number of key policies and investments that will make Los Angeles the most civically engaged region in the U.S. by 2050.

Lastly, NDSC activates Angelenos to make LA the best place to CONNECT through its ongoing series of community trainings, which are held monthly at USC and in the community. NDSC has launched a partnership with the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which supports the City’s 97 neighborhood councils in promoting public participation in government and improving government responsiveness to local concerns. Together, NDSC and Empower LA provide ongoing community workshops to train Angelenos on how to use data to activate change within their neighborhood. This partnership directly supports participation in neighborhood councils — a specific metric within the Connect goal.

Through these activities, NDSC helps the region work to become a place where every resident has the opportunity to engage, interact, and contribute to the region’s civic vitality.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to connect

NDSC activates nonprofits, government agencies, neighborhood councils, businesses, and other civic actors to make LA the best place to CONNECT through storytelling and trainings that help people use data to advocate for their community’s needs. Since the platform launched in October 2017, the platform has been viewed over 30,000 times. NDSC will scale up current activities to reach a total of 100,000 Angelenos over the next two years. Working with a range of community organizations, we will increase the number of trainings within LA County neighborhoods, to ensure that all Angelenos are able to locate the neighborhood data needed to activate change within their communities. NDSC will strategically partner with Neighborhood Councils, ensuring that we reach the full diversity of neighborhoods across the region — big and small, urban and rural, wealthy and under-resourced. A webinar will also be created to reach people that cannot attend a training. Training content will be promoted on the NDSC platform, in a monthly newsletter, and on the NDSC Twitter handle, which shares training schedules, new datasets and new data stories. Lastly, additional outreach will be conducted to engage more community partners in co-developing biweekly data stories published in partnership with KCETLink. Through these strategies, NDSC will provide a ladder of local data engagement for all Angelenos — from attending a single community training to participating as a full partner on new data stories.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

NDSC has a number of built-in metrics that help define and measure success. Increased visibility and community engagement will be the primary metrics that we use throughout the two-year year. Monitoring visibility will include an ongoing analysis of online traffic to the platform, an analysis of media coverage and social media engagement, and engagement with the bi-weekly data stories published through KCETLink. By 2019, we plan to have 50,000 Angelenos using the platform. By 2020, we anticipate that number climbing to 100,000 users. Increased community engagement will be measured by analyzing the number of individuals who are registering for, attending, and being waitlisted for our community training workshops. By 2019, we plan to reach 1,000 Angelenos through these trainings. By 2020, we plan to reach 2,000 participants. We will also record how much platform-related feedback we receive from the community, and how often individuals are downloading data and/or creating a login with the platform. Additionally, we will track inquiries from community groups requesting collaborations on data stories, as well the number of community partnerships to support NDSC training workshops. At all community trainings, we will gather user testimonials on how NDSC is helping to activate change in their community. Testimonials will be shared via social media, in our newsletter, and on the platform itself.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

In five years, Angelenos from all neighborhoods, with different backgrounds, goals, and aspirations for their neighborhoods, will use NDSC to activate change within their community. Civic actors will recognize NDSC as the go-to resource for accurate, timely, and policy relevant information about the challenges, opportunities, and trends facing local neighborhoods. Civic actors will have the information needed to generate informed and evidence-based policies and programs that address the unique needs of their communities. And, they will have a platform to share stories relevant to their community, using NDSC data stories to voice their opinions, influence policymakers, and advocate for their needs. NDSC will remain free to all users retaining its commitment to democratizing data; NDSC is the byproduct of a community-owned vision for accessible, transparent neighborhood data, and it is the community that will continue to shape the evolution of the platform. By working directly in partnership with nonprofit organizations, businesses, advocacy groups, neighborhood councils, and other civic actors, NDSC will activate a new era of civic engagement in Los Angeles, helping Angelenos build and track progress toward a shared vision for the future of Los Angeles.