Visualizing civic data to make the case for civic health

A new contest found four online tools that help people be more engaged in politics and their communities--from finding out which candidates’ policies help you more to archives of photos of your neighborhood.

By Ben Schiller

A new contest found four online tools that help people be more engaged in politics and their communities--from finding out which candidates’ policies help you more to archives of photos of your neighborhood.

Groups like the National Conference on Citizenship and the Knight Foundation have been gathering data on "civic health" for several years. They believe solid data from surveys and academic research help us "understand civic life in communities across the country" and that an "evidence-based approach" gives more backbone to arguments in support of civic initiatives.

But getting the message out is not easy, according to Jeff Coates. Knight and NCoC have a wealth of data, but it’s not necessarily in a usable and approachable form so large numbers can appreciate it.

"They are quite cumbersome if you’re not used to data," says Knight’s Jeff Coates, talking of projects like Knight’s "Soul of the Community" survey.

To get the data to a wider audience, NCoC and Knight started the Civic Data Challenge. And, after 170 teams took part, the winners were announced this weekend.

"This really unlocks the value of the data, and allows people to play around with it, and presents it in ways that are easily readable and understandable for the community, so it can take action," says Coates.

Read more at fastcoexist.com

 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.