These two Philly data companies are in on the White House Opportunity Project - Generocity Philly

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Mar. 9, 2016 12:10 pm

These two Philly data companies are in on the White House Opportunity Project

Reinvestment Fund's PolicyMap and GIS firm Azavea are two of 12 companies getting in on the federal initiative that hopes to create opportunity in underserved communities with open data.

The White House.

(Photo by Flickr user Diego Cambiaso, used under a Creative Commons license)

In his 2016 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama prompted Americans to create opportunity and access to jobs, housing, transportation and quality schools by embracing technology.

And in the 21st century, the technology most fit to identify where that opportunity can be created is open data.

That’s why the White House recently announced the Opportunity Project, a public-private initiative launched by the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that seeks to leverage open data to “help our children and our children’s children access the resources they need to thrive.”

Earlier this week, 12 private-sector tools used in cities across the country were showcased during a livestreamed event at the White House — two of those tools were built by Philly companies.

  • TransitAnalyst.com, a tool built by Callowhill-based mapping firm Azavea that maps transit accessibility to community assets (health centers, grocery stores, rec centers, etc.).
  • Reinvestment Fund‘s PolicyMap built a tool specifically for Opportunity Project that helps users identify areas with the things that signal a healthy community — quality schools, access to transit, stable housing and  “near a good school, with transit access, a stable housing market and neighborhood amenities” like public spaces, banks and health centers.

“Since Reinvestment Fund launched PolicyMap eight years ago, we’ve been driven by the singular belief that data has the power to change communities and markets,” said PolicyMap President Maggie McCullough in a recent release. “We are honored to be part of this effort that allows us to leverage our data-rich platform to model a simple yet sophisticated tool to easily identify places with opportunity.”

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In conjunction with the announcement, the Obama Administration released a set of federal and local datasets aimed at “accelerating a new way for the federal government to collaborate with local leaders, technologists, and community members.”

The datasets, referred to as Open Opportunity Data, will hopefully help families in underserved neighborhoods access vital information and influence policymaking.

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