There’s a New Reason to Try Out This Exceptionally Easy-to-Use Data Resource

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There’s a New Reason to Try Out This Exceptionally Easy-to-Use Data Resource

by Tamara Fox, Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, New York City Regional Grants and Tracy Perrizo, Associate Program Officer, New York City Regional Grants, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust


Launched in November, the DATA2GO.NYC website is a tool for community-based organizations, policymakers, social service delivery agencies, journalists, citizens, philanthropists, and all people working to improve life in New York City. It contains over 350 indicators for each of New York City’s 59 community districts, 150 of which are also available by census tract. Users can create unique maps, test relationships between indicators across neighborhoods, and print or share their results at the click of a button.

Back in 2014, the Helmsley Charitable Trust launched a New York City Regional Grants Program to help residents in our own hometown meet basic needs and maintain economic security for themselves and their families.We set out to develop the Program with a highly data-driven approach, intending to first find and utilize rich information about the region’s needs. But a well-organized portrait of this sort simply did not exist.

Indeed, while New York City is rich in data resources, they are often in disparate formats, out-of-date, and spread across dozens of websites. Some data were available only by geographies whose boundaries do not align with one another (crime data are available by precinct, education data by school, voting data by address, for example), creating mismatches that made it impossible for apples-to-apples comparisons across issues, neighborhoods, and time. Other data – such as information on homelessness and philanthropic giving – were unavailable to the public, making it difficult to access a holistic portrait of the city’s needs and assets. Moreover, many existing data tools focused only on one sector (such as health, housing, or employment) without allowing users to access related data on the wide variety of factors that may influence that topic.

So we sought to sponsor the creation of a tool to better aggregate broad sets of data that could be used to improve services for New York City’s neediest citizens. After more than a year of development, we are excited to now have DATA2GO.NYC. Created by Measure of America, an initiative of the Social Science Research Council, DATA2GO.NYC is an easy-to-use mapping and data tool that brings together for the first time federal, state, and local data vital to understanding how multiple factors combine to influence New Yorkers’ experience of inequalities and well-being. 

When we funded the development of DATA2GO.NYC, we hoped to contribute to a more nuanced and accurate picture of human needs. Today, this tool provides a crucial bedrock of information for the future endeavors of not only our NYC Regional Grants Program but all other organizations that are working to tackle critical local issues. Check it out for yourself at DATA2GO.NYC.

While you’re at it, consider entering the DATA2GO.NYC Visualization Challenge, which will award a $2,000 prize to the individual or group that most compellingly uses DATA2GO.NYC to illustrate well-being and inequality in New York’s neighborhoods.

Free to enter and open to the public, the DATA2GO.NYC Visualization Challenge invites anyone interested in information design to use DATA2GO.NYC’s unique dataset to create informative, beautiful visualizations that illuminate neighborhood strengths and challenges and how they shape the choices and opportunities of New Yorkers who live there.

The DATA2GO.NYC Visualization Challenge will review submissions that bring together the disparate streams of data to address some of the city’s most difficult problems. Make your submission here by January 25!

We presented DATA2GO.NYC to a dozens of funders at PNY in early December and were very encouraged by their immensely positive feedback on how useful it would be in grantmaking.  The site is remarkably easy to use, and the maps that it produces are visually arresting.  Explore the tool, produce your own data maps and consider entering the Visualization Challenge. 

Tamara C. Fox and Tracy Perrizo manage The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust’s New York City Regional Grants Program. 

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