Community Data Generation, Research and Diffusion: An Integrated Approach Using Open-Source Tools
Several obstacles impact the ability of both the general public, students and University staff and leaders to make effective decisions using data: 1) Accessing up-to-date information is tedious and requires visits to numerous data sources. 2) The volume of data available makes it difficult to identify the appropriate information contained in it. 3) Users do not have access to or the technical ability to use complex geospatial and visualization tools. 4) Users don’t have the education or experience to critically evaluate this information and turn it into actionable ideas.
Funded by a state university, a decision support and visualization web-tool that would help reduce these obstacles was developed. The tool allows users’ to view and evaluate the state’s community, county and regional data at various geographies and share this information with citizens and local leaders through their outreach activities. This proposal presents an academic case study showcasing how the project was developed, an overview and review of the open-source tools selected and examples of how the project provides opportunities for data collection, data sharing, report generation, and easy access to ever-changing data sets. The case study will also illustrate how the design team opened the system up to allow university experts the opportunity to become data custodians and provide novice users with information critical to properly interpret the data. The presentation will include an overview of tools that allow end users to mash their own data with existing data sets as well as customize the data visualization for color and layout and more impactful options such as margin-of-error or economic inflation.