City Profile: Syracuse, NY

Sharing Data

Photo Credit: The Post- Standard/Ellen M. Blalock
“The data get us all on the same page.”

Syracuse has recently been working with What Works Cities to pass a formal open data policy, while also galvanizing community interest in its municipal data by cultivating contacts with local nonprofits and other community stakeholders. These local organizations now meet regularly to discuss the data they need for their own projects. For example, the Community Foundation wants data on housing code violations, the age of housing stock, and similar information to inform its giving around the amelioration of lead paint.

Sam Edelstein, Chief Data Officer, says the City’s data can help pinpoint specific blocks within census tracts, making it possible to target very specific areas within Syracuse’s impoverished neighborhoods with information, including vacant houses, the location of crimes, and code violations. Says Edelstein:

“We’re all constantly working on ways to resolve issues, and we’re interested in outcomes and metrics. The nonprofits want to track the returns on grants they make, and they’ve indicated that having more consistent, updated access to data would be helpful to narrow down where they may want to make grants. The data get us all on the same page. We can’t solve poverty, but we might be able to fix specific problems on specific streets.”

The above profile is an excerpt from “What Works Cities: How Local Governments Are Changing Lives,” a new report showcasing accomplishments from cities participating in the What Works Cities initiative over the past two years. Read more profiles and city success stories here.