Active Transportation Alliance invited Eric Hanns and I to speak about “using data for advocacy” at their first annual transportation summit held after a member meeting two Saturdays ago. My and Eric’s talks were complementary and centered around the data tool I built and which Eric and the other volunteers in the 46th Ward participatory budgeting program used to prioritize and market infrastructure projects in Uptown.
The tool in question is the Chicago Crash Browser I made last year and improved this year to load data faster, with great help from the Smart Chicago Collaborative and several members of the OpenGov Hack Night group I cherish.
Click or tap a spot in Chicago to retrieve the number of bicyclist-car and pedestrian-car crashes within 150 feet. With this information, the PB volunteers could show the alderman how important it was for him to support bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects in the ward, and to persuade ward voters to fund these projects.
Find more information about the four other summit “breakout groups” on Active Trans’s website. Eric and I prepared a “Using Data for Advocacy: Making the Case with Compelling Facts” handout which you can download as a PDF or see on our Google Doc. I’ve conveniently listed the links from the handout below but if you want more pointed advice on where to look for specific data, or get an answer to questions you have but don’t grok the context of each of these tools, leave me a comment.
- BikeIndex and Chicago Stolen Bike Registry (bike registration)
- Close Calls, report your hairy situations
- Chicago Health Atlas (neighborhood demographics/health)
- NYT Census Browser, American FactFinder for decennial and annual census information which you may find difficult to use if you’re uninitiated to the site or data
- Second City Zoning, Vacant Building Finder by Open City Apps
- Service Tracker, Chicago Works (Open311 app)
- Capital projects (sewer work, repaving, etc.): your alderman’s office, website, and newsletter (Alderman Reilly has the most informative newsletters on Loop activity); the hard-to-navigate city website (here are 2013 water and sewer main projects)
- Other information: FOIA (Freedom of Information Act; this is a somewhat arduous process but it’s almost guaranteed to get you the information you need if simply asking doesn’t work)
- Chicago Department of Transportation plans: Streets for Cycling Plan 2020, Bike 2015 Plan, Complete Streets Design Guidelines, Sustainable Infrastructure Design Guidelines (see also: NACTO urban bikeway design guide, Active Trans’s Complete Streets, Complete Networks)
- Open-source mapping platforms: Google Fusion Tables, OpenStreetMap, GeoCommons, Scribble Maps
- Chicago Open Data Portal
- IDOT Traffic Counts
- CMAP Data (Demographics, Land Use, other)