Data to support economic and community development in Detroit

3/28/2016 feature story

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Jeffrey Morenoff

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Detroit Metropolitan Area Communities Study (DMACS): A Collaborative Information and Innovation Platform for the Region

As Metro Detroit emerges from bankruptcy and the Great Recession, decision-makers throughout the region face the daunting challenge of reinvigorating Detroit's economic and community development in an equitable and sustainable manner. Where will targeted investments have the greatest impact, and how will they shape the future of Metro Detroit? How do residents of the communities most affected by such investments and public policies perceive their impacts? How should they prioritize the next generation of investments? To help community stakeholders answer these questions, the Detroit Metropolitan Area Communities Study (DMACS) has developed an innovative online survey that provides timely and accessible data and analyses on Detroit, and integrates data from other sources about people and places across the region. The goal is to support evidence-based decisions about community investments and public policy and to incorporate community responses to current and proposed changes in Detroit. DMACS regularly surveys a broad, representative group of Detroit area residents about their communities, including their experiences, perceptions, priorities, and aspirations. To date, the DMACS team has collected data from a representative sample of over 700 City of Detroit residents in two surveys fielded in fall 2016 and winter 2017. Examples of topics covered in these initial surveys include quality of life, priorities for change in the metro area, the impact of recent investments in Downtown and Midtown on different populations, sense of community and social cohesion, transportation and mobility, public safety, police-community relations, decisions about whether and when to move, activism and voluntarism, the role of government and trust in government institutions, views on inequality and race relations, and health and health care coverage. DMACS delivers research-quality information to stakeholders about the impact of ongoing changes and investments, allowing them to track how residents perceive, evaluate, and connect with their communities. It also provides citizens a platform for communicating needs, visions for the future for their local areas and the broader region, and reactions to new ideas for improving Metro Detroit's quality of life.

Jeffrey Morenoff, Elisabeth Gerber

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