The Democratization of Data: Bridging the Gap for Community Groups

Report by David S. Sawicki, William J. Craig

Urban Institute   (NNIP Coordinator)

Community groups from low-income neighborhoods have the most to gain from full access to data, yet the least capability to achieve that access or make use of the data once they have it. The gap is being filled by intermediaries providing access to data and assistance with analysis and policy development. These efforts are empowering community groups, allowing them to participate fully in planning and policy discussions that affect their neighborhoods. This paper explores the nature of the information providers, the services they provide to community organizations, and the challenges they face in doing so. Combining their experiences with our view of the coming technical and societal issues allows us to forecast what the future might look like. We conclude that community groups will become more self-sufficient, but will continue to need outside expertise. Since not all community groups now have access to such intermediaries, more research and development should be undertaken to support the movement.