Charlotte spends a day learning about data

Understanding the wealth of publicly available data can be both exciting and overwhelming. But plenty of people are eager to try. More than 150 neighborhood organizers, nonprofit leaders, local government staff, academics, and interested citizens gathered Tuesday at UNC Charlotte’s Center City building for the inaugural Charlotte Data Day.

Hosted by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, Federal Reserve of Richmond, City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, the forum introduced community members from across the region to several national and local sources of data and showed how data can be used as a tool for community development.

More about Data Day

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Ira Goldstein, president of policy solutions at The Reinvestment Fund, spoke about how communities across the country use data to measure assets and needs. UNC Charlotte’s Dr. Owen Furuseth presented the nationally acclaimed and locally praised Quality of Life Study, which has a wealth of new data on Mecklenburg neighborhoods. Two panels of nonprofit leaders discussed the importance of data in driving policy and the challenges of gathering and using data to inform their work.

After hearing about data resources such as Policy Map and the Quality of Life study, participants had the opportunity to test-drive those resources in hands-on workshops.

Data can help create change in a community, whether that means getting grant funding to start a program or articulating convincing arguments to elected officials to address neighborhood problems. Data can be used as a resource to identify an issue or need, as well as to identify positive trends and success stories that can be studied or replicated, and the event offered illustrations of those uses.

Presentations from the conference are available below. Click here to download presenter bios.


The Data-Driven Community, Ira Goldstein, The Reinvestment Fund / Policy Solutions

Empowering grassroots users with neighborhood analytics, Owen Furuseth, UNC Charlotte

Visualizing storytelling with data and information, Bryan Connor and Heather Bradbury, Maryland Institute College of Art

Sifting through sources, Amy Hawn Nelson and Claire Apaliski, Institute for Social Capital and UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

Using the Charlotte Regional Indicators data, Laura Simmons, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Data and Mapping Resources, Shannon McKay, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Scroll below for photos of the event:

Slideshow of scenes from Data Day