The CWK (Communities Who Know), Inc. Data Dashboard™* serves as a one-stop shop for key data that are accessible to community stakeholders, researchers, local government agencies, and relevant foundations interested in sustainable communities, especially urban communities that are now in crisis or experiencing the throes and tares of tremendous change. We believe that this tool has the potential to encourage better data-driven decision-making at the neighborhood level and to support, as well, research and policymaking processes designed to address challenges faced by communities in education, workforce development, public safety, and other areas of vital importance to the prosperity and sustainability of communities. The idea is that communities who know their community landscapes in well-grounded ways have a better opportunity to make decisions that are socially conscious, meaningful, and impactful in creating progress and positive change

    The dashboard is intended to be a flexible tool that is capable of evolving in keeping with a community’s needs and interests. The current form of the dashboard is focused on Westside neighborhoods in Atlanta, Georgia (on Neighborhood Planning Units** K, L, and T). It offers resources and visualizations of data through seven basic portals: 1) community profile, 2) education, 3) historic timeline, 4) historic data, 5) workforce development, 6) public safety, and 7) resource library. In keeping with the needs of these communities, we anticipate offering at least two additional portals: health and wellness, and transit and mobility.

    The dashboard is a user-friendly tool designed to: 1) draw quantitative and qualitative data from publicly available sources in documenting the history, conditions, issues, challenges, and achievements of specific communities; 2) offer credible resources to various users (community stakeholders, policy-makers, researchers) in support of knowledge-building and evidence-based analyses, decision-making processes, and strategic planning; 3) provide regular baseline reports (regarding specific patterns in the data annually collected) in support of community planning and development; and 4) provide basic tools for community stakeholders (and training for them on how to utilize the tools) to participate actively in their own documentation, analysis, interpretation, visualization, and story-telling projects in support of building their capacity to voice their own perspectives in more compelling ways.

    In 2011, the dashboard began with a static map of assets in Westside neighborhoods created through a city planning studio project at Georgia Tech lead by Professor Harley Etienne (Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and the College of Design) and the vision of Dean Jacqueline Jones Royster (Ivan Allen College) to create a more robust, dynamic, and useable tool. The first virtual tool was created in Fall 2013 by a group of graduate students in Professor John Stasko’s (College of Computing) Data Visualization class who took on the dashboard as a class project and mapped transit and walkability in the city. Their platform also provided a heat map of census data that has since been transformed into the big data tool that is so vital to the functioning of the dashboard. Beginning in Spring 2014, several graduate research assistants from the Ivan Allen College have continued to work on the dashboard in varying capacities in its ongoing development and refinement.

    In Summer 2014, Katie O’Connell (MS in City and Regional Planning) was hired as the Project Manager for developing the dashboard. Under her guidance and leadership, we were able to research similar platforms across the country; begin collecting relevant data for the City of Atlanta; assess existing data resources, such as Atlanta Regional Commission’s Neighborhood Nexus, U.S. EPA’s Enviromapper, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey; engage several focus groups of Westside residents and stakeholders in designing, developing, and reviewing the usability of various data portals. In addition, staff associated with the project have participated in and made presentations on the dashboard at various conferences and symposia, including: The Center for Community Progress’ Vacant Properties Conference in 2015, Atlanta Studies Symposium, a TEDx Talk, and the Georgia Tech Center for Urban Innovation. In the Spring of 2016, we officially launched the prototype as a useable tool.

    Now under the label of the Communities Who Know, Inc. Data Dashboard™, the dashboard continues to evolve. Since 2011, progress through various stages of its development has been made possible by funding from the Ford Foundation and collaborations with units at Georgia Tech (Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, the College of Design, the College of Architecture, the Center for Geographic Information Systems) and with community partners in Westside neighborhoods.

    Click here to visit to the Communities Who Know initiative homepage


    *Note that the Communities Who Know, Inc. Data Dashboard™ was originally developed under the leadership and management of Dean Jacqueline J. Royster as part of a special project of the Ivan Allen College—the Westside Communities Alliance, a collaboration with the College of Design and partners in Westside communities. This project ended in Spring 2016, but the development of the dashboard continues under Dean Royster’s leadership.
    **In the City of Atlanta, a Neighborhood Planning Unit is a citizen advisory council that makes recommendations to the Mayor and City Council on zoning, land use, and other planning issues.