MAPSCorp Civic Tech Team Tackles Big Data Part I

Left to Right: Justice, Randi, Meri-t-ua, Winter, Kaylar

Photo: Norma Sanders

Meet Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporations MAPSCorps Civic Tech Team 2014. They are participating in a 6-week summer intern program with the University of Chicago, After School Matters and GADC. These are not your ordinary "mappers."

This year, five MAPSCorps interns were selected to document and analyze five years of asset data, collected by mappers in the communities of Auburn Gresham, Chatham, Greater Grand Crossing, Washington Heights and parts of Ashburn and Chicago Lawn,  and to propose a community project that solved a civic issue or concern, they felt is most needed by the communities we serve. All thought they new almost instantly what they and other youth were willing to fight for, they rolled up their sleeves to tackle the BIG DATA package received to helpp validate their assumptions for their project proposal.

As they discussed the different taxonomy's of the data, they immediately begin to find this might not be as easy as it sounds. They asked the 2014 data mappers to valiadate a few businesses in the field and to talk about the assets they observed during the first weeks of mapping in the community that were specifically for youth. Over the course of several days, with the exception of the obvious, MLK skating and bowling center and The Ark of St. Sabina, no assets were observed within walking distance or after mapping locations when they took their first bus ride. 

The teens had access tothe CommunityRX Health Information Specialist (CHIS), Kimesha Huggins, at thier disposal. They fussed about not having direct access and after reviewing the large data set with her, After working with their CHIS to narrow the project down to specific areas, most young adults reflected as important, the following topics  became focus area for their proproal and they would work to analyze categories of the data-set around: 

  • Healthy foods and lifestyle
  • Employment and social support services
  • Teen parenting
  • Arts and culture

After getting an understanding of how the taxonomys work, we honestly still had trouble  thinking about how we would work across such large amounts of data (sent to us in large Excel spreadsheets) that would support our theory and proposed plan. We were convined we needed a tool to help us sort through the data faster. When we talked about this with the CHIS, she showed us how to use healtheRX, to find places in each of the four focus areas. It worked! We also used just a basic Google search a lot, to find places in nearby neighborhoods and across the country similar to what we were looking for. As we end weeks 1 and 2 of our internship, the road to using big data for the Dipoff is just beginning. Come back for us to show you the data!

...stay tuned for MAPSCorps Civic Tackles Big Data Part II (weeks 3 and 4)