Data and Decisions: Parcel Level Information Changing the Way Business Gets Done

Report by G. Thomas Kingsley , Kathryn L.S. Pettit
July 8, 2008

Urban Institute   (NNIP Coordinator)

The accelerated development of electronic land information systems in our cities creates opportunities for important improvements in land management and community development. However, “decision support tools” are needed to assure that new data are effectively acted on. These tools transform raw data into accessible information displays designed to inform specific actions by private, nonprofit and government actors, and may range from simple web tables to more complex analytic processes. This paper reviews early experiences in developing such tools in five cities (as part of a Brookings Urban Markets Initiative pilot project) and concludes that they have great promise. The choice of tools will depend on local market conditions, but in all areas, they can help in: (1) assessing trends and need for intervention; (2) deciding on the appropriate interventions for individual properties; and (3) program monitoring and coordination. Ideas are offered as to how local leaders can create an environment conducive to capitalizing on the potential of these tools and avoiding risks that could hinder their effective use.