Panel: Making Better Decisions Using Data to Enhance Workforce Development, Neighborhood Improvements, and School Safety
(Housing and Community Development)

Friday, November 3, 2017: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Horner (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Matthias Ruth, Northeastern University
Panel Chairs:  Matthias Ruth, Northeastern University
Discussants:  Nigel Jacob, Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and Michael Goodman, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Economic Development and Gentrification in Communities with High Levels of Environmental Injustice
Adam Eckerd, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Heather Campbell, Claremont Graduate University and Yushim Kim, Arizona State University

Strong partnerships between researchers and practitioners are an essential element for city and state leaders to be able to make better decisions using data. Massachusetts state and local government has a long history of such partnerships, working with both university centers and non-profit think tanks. With recent advances in the collection and analysis of “big data” these partnerships have become increasingly important to ensure that policymakers are able to strategically use new sources of information to evaluate policy and performance. This panel presents three recent examples of such partnerships in Massachusetts in the areas of workforce development, neighborhood improvements, and school safety. The first paper stems from a collaboration between the Boston Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy to integrate both survey and administrative data to evaluate the city’s summer youth employment program. The second paper highlights a partnership between the Boston Mayor’s Office of Urban Mechanics and the Boston Area Research Initiative to better interpret and make use of 311 call data for neighborhood infrastructure improvements. The third paper is the result of a relationship between the Massachusetts agency for Safe Routes to School and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to develop a new survey tool that investigate the effects of route, neighborhood, and school characteristics on walking to school and can be used to assess the effectiveness of school-to-work programs. Finally, our two discussants speak to the value of these initiatives in the context of the importance of measurement in public policy analysis from both an academic and practitioner perspective yielding additional synergies for a dialogue regarding the use of data in local decision-making within a particular geography.

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