Mining Administrative Data to Spur Urban Revitalization

December 07, 2016 by Ben Green, Alejandra Caro, Matthew Conway, Robert Manduca, Tom Plagge, Abby Miller

Access this Publication
After decades of urban investment dominated by sprawl and outward growth, municipal governments in the United States are responsible for the upkeep of urban neighborhoods that have not received sufficient resources or maintenance in many years. One of city governments' biggest challenges is to revitalize decaying neighborhoods given only limited resources. In this paper, we apply data science techniques to administrative data to help the City of Memphis, Tennessee improve distressed neighborhoods. We develop new methods to efficiently identify homes in need of rehabilitation and to predict the impacts of potential investments on neighborhoods. Our analyses allow Memphis to design neighborhood-improvement strategies that generate greater impacts on communities. Since our work uses data that most US cities already collect, our models and methods are highly portable and inexpensive to implement. We also discuss the challenges we encountered while analyzing government data and deploying our tools, and highlight important steps to improve future data-driven efforts in urban policy.