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Jeffrey Morenoff photo

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

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Jeffrey Morenoff, Elisabeth Gerber

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) provides an innovative online survey and web structure 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 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 their needs, their vision of the future for their local areas and the broader region, and their reactions to new ideas for improving Metro Detroit's quality of life.

DMACS is distinct from other public opinion polls and surveys in these ways:

· Large Scope: DMACS covers the entire region over a two-year initial phase, making it the only large-scale, regional, longitudinal panel survey in the nation.
· Representativeness: The sample meets scientific standards and captures the full range of population diversity, including disadvantaged, hard to study, and underserved subgroups such as those with low incomes/education/literacy, those with physical/cognitive disabilities, and recent migrants.
· Adaptable and Innovative Content: The platform allows us to quickly respond to changes that affect the region, including policies, events, and trends. By conducting frequent online surveys, the content can be enhanced with maps, charts, pictures, or videos. The platform can also target specific communities, with content tailored to local issues and needs.
· Cutting Edge Technology: Working with various partners, we will incorporate new technologies for data collection, analysis, visualization and dissemination.
· Deep Engagement: By relying on the latest technology, developing a community outreach team, and partnering with area organizations already working in a similar space, DMACS provides continual and timely feedback to local stakeholders and the public as a whole.
· Data Harmonization and Integration: DMACS enables enhancement of other data collection efforts in the region by making available baseline data against which local surveys and program evaluations can be compared. DMACS data can also be integrated with big data in powerful ways, such as comparing the views and attitudes expressed by local residents on social media to those of a representative sample of the region.

Funding Period: 02/01/2016 to 01/31/2018

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