Open Data Wish List for Disaster Recovery
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Slate: The Most Empowering Tool for Hurricane RecoveryThis focus is on short and long-term recovery, not immediate response, which has very different data needs. Please add comments and ideas for other data sets to this doc or reach out on twitter @denicewross Thx!
Name of Data setCategoryData OwnerHow it might be usedLinks to data source or examples
People in temporary donated housingPopulation, Housing, PhilanthropyCompanies brokering donated housingPlatforms like AirBnB have waived fees for residents impacted by Harvey and medical responders. They will also have valuable information about location and duration of donated housing. Private sector efforts are part of the modern recovery ecosystem and need quantifying.
FEMA Individual Disaster AssistancePopulation, HousingFEMA(organized by zip code of the impacted household to protect privacy) with the zip code of where the household received their assistance check would give valuable information to deliver needed services and information to areas with large amounts of displaced residents. In the early days after Katrina, several news outlets including the NYT published eye-opening maps using this data.
Shelter locations and attributesPopulation, HousingRed Cross and other shelter providersRed Cross and other shelters should have standard open data feeds including location, number of beds, availability, special, so that if the "official" website is overwhelmed with traffic (as it is now as Irma approaches), media, local gov and others can distribute the up-to-date accurate information on available shelters.
RepopulationPopulationDirect mail marketing companiesPostal data has the potential to be one of the most valuable data sets for understanding neighborhood population recovery, because letter carriers are on the ground every day and they know when an address is occupied. Direct mail marketing companies also have good lists of addresses receiving mail (h/t to Valassis, the company that puts grocery circulars in your mailbox formaking their data available for the Katrina Recovery) and may have lists that can be rented for this purpose.
RepopulationPopulationUSPS Delivery Statistics ProductPostal data has the potential to be one of the most valuable data sets for understanding neighborhood population recovery, because letter carriers are on the ground every day and they know when an address is occupied. The USPS has zip code data on households actively receiving mail, but it is only available if purchased, and then has restrictive terms of use.
Needs and unmet needsPhilanthropy, Needscommunity information & referral hotlines (typically 211)Community information and referral lines offer a useful window into the population’s rapidly changing needs through the course of the recovery. 211 can release top service requests (as the 211 of Greater Houston does on their website) and may also be the first organization to potential identify unmet needs.
Utility outages and advisoriesInfrastructureElectric service providers, natural gas providers, water utilities and internet providersIt would make for a more predictable environment for residents and businesses to get back on their feet if they could consume small-area data on utility outages, advisories (like boil water advisories) and estimated restoration times.
Municipal assetsInfrastructureLocal govThe local and operational status of municipal assets such as police stations, fire stations, community centers, and parks are great indicators of how well a part of town is returning to normal.
Public transportation InfrastructureLocal, regional govBus/light rail/subway routes, stops and frequency
Infrastructure statusInfrastructureState and local govRoads, bridges, levees all have project management trackers that could be made public to build trust with the public, allow for informed decisions about safety/vulnerability while the infrastrucure is under repair, and set expecations for when repairs will be fixed. This data can also be useful to ensure a fair allocation of resources and prioritiation of work across neighborhoods.
ParcelsHousing, Businesslocal gov, property tax assessorsParcels are the rectangles of land that people own, are ultimately the unit of recovery and serves as a scaffold for all of the above data sets. Local governments can give a boost to neighborhood recovery efforts by making parcel data fully available. This is such a valuable data set that neighborhood groups in post-Katrina New Orleans shared bootleg copies of the data when they were not able to get it through public record requests.
Building and demolition permitsHousinglocal governmentBuilding permits are the first signal of a property owner’s intent to rebuild. Demolition permits can be an indicator of progress, in the removal of nuisance property, or could signal the impending loss of architectural heritage. Better to know before the demolition happens, than after.
Historic properties and districtsHousingNational or historic preservation orgs or local govDisasters can imperil an area's architectural heritage if historic properties are not given extra consideration in the rush to demolish or repair, and historical buildings may be able to tap into different $ for rehab. The flip side is that historic status can also add red tape to recovery in historic areas. These data can also be used to create a hazard adaptation and mitigation plan for historic areas.
Damage assessmentsHousingFEMADamage assessments from FEMA set a baseline for the disaster recovery.
Certificate of occupancyHousinglocal governmentIf the locality requires that property owners get their properties reinspected before occupancy, then certificates of occupancy would serve as a terrific measure of recovery.
Property condition surveysHousingNeighborhood orgs or universitiesOnce recovery is underway, one way to gather city-wide data on property conditions is to use volunteers to walk the streets and methodically collect the data.
Property condition surveysHousinglocal government or other recovery orgOnce recovery is underway, one way to gather city-wide data on property conditions is to collect street-level imagery and then crowdsource the scoring of property condition. Benefits of this method include: limited boots-on-ground required, randomization of scoring reduces bias, random sampling generates actional info faster
Undeliverable addressesHousingHUDFor years now, the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development has been compiling postal data on undeliverable addresses (tagged as "NO STAT") that cities like New Orleans, Detroit and Youngstown use as an indicator of how many blighted, undeliverable addresses a neighborhood has.
Rental pricesHousingAssociations of rental property owners, apartment companies and rental real estate listing websitesRental prices often skyrocket after disaster, making it harder for lower income residents who lost their housing to return, and there's a significant lag in federal Fair Market Rent data. Local sources of data could publish more timely information about rental pricing so policymakers and advocates can better address any problems quickly.
Code enforcement inspectionsHousinglocal gov code enforcement officeCode enforcement inspections and can give residents living nearby storm-damaged properties a grasp of what’s happening bureaucratically, and can help them better prepare for public hearings. In their 2012 fellowship in New Orleans, Code for America built a website called BlightStatus that pulled these and other data sets for an easy, single-view of government action on a given property.
Mortgage delinquencyHousingCredit reporting companiesAs displaced people struggle with bills and job security, mortgages may fall into delinquency. Aggregate (not individual) over time can show if people are at risk of losing their homes.
Property tax delinquencyHousingLocal govProperty tax status becomes useful as the recovery progresses for understanding what levers might be available for remediating neglected storm damaged properties.
Location and status of public & subsidized housingHousingHUD, local housing authorityHUD publishes data on the location of public and subsidized housing. Managing an affordable housing crisis will mean keeping a close eye on availability of this housing if it was damaged in the disaster.
Medical facilitiesHealth & SafetyLocal health department or public health institute People will injure themselves mucking out drywall and rebuilding. The location of urgent care facilities, emergency rooms, and temporary clinics will especially be helpful for both residents and out of town helpers when they need a tetanus shot, and can also be used by officials and philanthropy to fill geographic gaps in care.
Point of Distribution SitesHealth & SafetyLocal government, nonprofit/volunteer orgsTemporary point of distribution sites (PODs), typically organized by local officials and hosted in large parking lots, are the go-to resource for water, cleaning supplies, recovery paperwork assistance and more. Location, hours, and offerings of PODs would be a good help get accurate information out through multiple channels. Real-time status (“out of ice” or “just got shipment of bottled water”) would save residents time and reduce unnecessary traffic. Real time status could be crowdsourced if each POD has a unique social media hashtag.
Environmental test resultsHealth & SafetyFederal, state, local agencies and private testers such as nonprofit environmental groupsMaking the results of environmental testing (soil, air and water) from EPA, State and local government, and nonprofits like the Natural Resources Defense Council open and available will help journalists and scientists make sense of any discrepancies so the public can act with good information.
Police dataHealth & Safetylocal law enforcement, 911 dispatch centerTransparency in terms of crime reports, arrests and citations, police use of force, traffic stops, 911 calls for service and how long it takes fire, police and EMS to respond will help keep the order and trust flowing as the recovery trudges on.
Municipal service requests (311)GeneralLocal gov 311311 is a non-emergency system that many municipalities offer so citizens can call or submit complaints to local government. Open 311 data could serve as a sentinel for emerging mosquito problems in specific neighborhoods.>>
Donations and outcomesFinancial, PhilanthropyNonprofits and volunteer orgsDonations to nonprofits and volunteer organizations such as the Red Cross, United Way, what they are being spent on and measurable results from this investment will be important not only for locals, but also to build confidence for would-be donors and volunteers. This transparency is a fantastic opportunity to explain the reality of overhead and the real costs of managing volunteers and donations.
Contractor fraudFinancial, Business & ServicesBetter Business Bureau, state licensing agenciesWith money comes the scam artists, so the Better Business Bureau or the State agency responsible for contractor licensing can make complaints about contractor fraud public so residents had a place to check before writing a check to a contractor. Third party web sites such as Angie's List or Thumbtack could consume this data, or also crowdsource it.
Federal rebuilding moneyFinancialVarious federal agencies (HUD, Army Corps, EPA, HHS, etc)Federal rebuilding money from the federal government is tricky to follow because it typically goes through the state, and then is administered through various programs. Each program should publish up to date data on how much money has been, allocated, received and spent, how it was spent and what the outcomes are. If money has gone to rebuilding specific properties, that property data should be made available to the extent that privacy rules allow.
Insurance claimsFinancialFEMA, private insurance companies, NFIPInsurance claims and how much was paid out from programs such as the National Flood Insurance Program and Small Business Administration loans and private insurance companies give a sense for how much unmet need there is, and what neighborhoods might be bearing larger burdens in the recovery.
Public school locations/statusBusiness & ServicesState Dept of Education or local school districtsSchool status seems simple, but it can get very complex as grade levels split across campuses, and schools combine at one location taking a morning and evening shift in the building.
Private school locations/statusBusiness & ServicesOrganizations of private schools, such as the Catholic ArchdiocesePrivate schools are often even harder than public schools to track because of the lack of centralized data. Associations of privates schools may help speed data collection here.
Public and private school enrollmentPopulationStateThis is a good indicator of population recovery. It's common for parents with children to be least likely to return to disaster-prone areas. When compared with postal data trends school enrollment may lag indicating slower return of children.
Business location and typeBusiness & ServicesState business licensing, or local sales tax revenue databaseState business license data can serve as a base for residents to report on which hardware stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations and other vital businesses are open for business.
Special licensing for facilitiesBusiness & ServicesState and local licensing agenciesLocation and attributes of licensed facilities such as childcare centers, health facilities, restaurants etc. This data won't itself tell whether pre-disaster licensed facilities are open, but will show as new facilities open, and can be used to conduct surveys on who is open.
Facility re-inspection statusBusiness & ServicesState and local licensing agencies
Facilities such as childcare centers, health facilities, and restaurants may need to be re-inspected before opening after a disaster. This current status can be helpful for individuals seeking services and for stakeholders tracking recovery.
Credit card swipe dataBusiness & ServicesCredit card companies (MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, Square, etc)To reduce the need for impacted residents to crowdsource open/closed data updated, credit card companies could release nightly data on businesses swiping credit cards in the previous day, a sign that they are open.
National chain statusBusiness & ServicesNational chainsNational chains like Waffle House and Walmart, grocery stores, pharmacies could make the lives of residents and local journalists easier but publishing open data on location of open/closed stores, hours of operation, and special storm-related information.
Voter registration dataStateIf residents are displaced, voting may become politically heated. Transparency about how many people are registered to vote in each affected district may be important to ensure election legitimacy.
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