Be the Change by beamdata
Be the Change powered by beamdata facilitates civic action through issue advocacy, direct outreach to elected officials, and digital community-building.
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An open call for a Community Advisory Board by beamdata

In the coming months, as beamdata builds and pilots Be the Change — a citizen engagement app that connects constituents and their community concerns to elected officials — our goal is to ensure governing decisions are made to solve specific human problems and lift up all community concerns.

Now more than ever, the crisis presented by COVID-19 has revealed civic engagement tools are an opportunity to strengthen democratic participation and support equity-driven collaboration. This is our chance to build tools at a pace that prioritize the depth of community input and directly respond to the needs, ideas, and wants of who they’re intended to serve. People are rightfully skeptical and unhappy with how companies have gotten it wrong in recent years. It would be irresponsible to not address the mistrust of technology or just the general misuse of information by social media platforms. These concerns underscore the failure to prioritize community leadership in the creation of civic technology. …


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Scroll through Terri Minor Spencer’s Facebook page and you’ll see she has a daily inspirational message for you: “Good morning, Boom Shakeas! Have a great day and do it with your chin up and back straight!”

As an activist and President of West End P.O.W.E.R., Terri is a community advocate committed to building a shared vision towards progress. We interviewed Terri to learn what inspired her to build West End P.O.W.E.R. She described her motivations as rooted in noticing…“the rules of the system are not the same rules for everyone and we see that those rules keep us, the poor, black and brown, working class people suppressed. …


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We are living in unprecedented times. To ensure safe physical distancing, public commenting has been restricted at borough council meetings and town halls are less frequent. As we recover from the devastating impacts of COVID-19, ensuring voters have access to accurate information and the ability to provide input on legislation and community development projects will be a challenge for elected officials. It will become more important to broaden communication methods to facilitate constructive dialogue and feedback loops between local and state representatives and residents.

With the recent increase in avenues for participatory democracy, it may not be as difficult to lean into this new digital reality presented by COVID-19. The shift in democratic power has becoming increasingly open and engaging. Social media movements like #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter underscored this shift towards collective action and organized democratic response that brings local government and community leaders together. …


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Image source: https://beamdata.shinyapps.io/lrsalleghenycty/

The 2020 Census is less than a year away and local governments are mobilizing Complete Count Committees to encourage people to participate. With over 330 million people living in more than 140 million housing units, a complete Census count is a momentous and important task. In order to achieve an accurate count, local governments are incorporating data and technology tools to maximize accuracy and outreach.

These past few months, beamdata has been serving on the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Complete Count Committee as partners on the Data Subcommittee. Beamdata is an organization that operates at the intersection of data and community-level social issues, so the opportunity to work with local government has been an invaluable learning experience for our team. …


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Data systems in the nonprofit sector are underdeveloped and fragmented, which has long-standing implications for community-based decision making.

Typically, nonprofit practitioners collect and use data for various purposes with many organizational leaders claiming there is too much data and too little actionable information. It is true that many practitioners are overwhelmed by large amounts of data, which can be frustrating to analyse. As a result, data often results in little problem-solving value or strategic insight. This perpetuates a culture that enables short-term performance and inhibits long-term strategizing or growth. …

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