Date: May 2017

Takeaways from NNIP Baltimore 2017

Kelly Nelson

Last week, my colleague Jennifer Newcomer and I attended the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership’s Spring 2017 partner meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. Created in 1995, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) is a collaboration between the Urban Institute and local partners in more than 30 cities that helps further the development and use of neighborhood data in local decision-making, community building and policy efforts. The Piton Foundation’s Shift Research Lab is a founding member of NNIP, and the network supports our efforts to promote the use of neighborhood information in the Denver region. NNIP’s partner meeting, which is held biannually, provides a valuable opportunity to learn from our colleagues and friends in partner cities about how neighborhood data can be used to improve communities and drive social change.

The following are a few of my takeaways from the meeting in Baltimore:

  • Importance of Peer-to-Peer Connections: The foundation of NNIP is the relationships between colleagues across the partner cities. While our organizations play important roles in our respective cities, it’s sometimes difficult to explain our roles as “community data intermediaries,” or organizations that manage local neighborhood data. But, at this meeting, we are surrounded by peers who deeply understand our work, and we have a unique opportunity to share best practices and converse about what is occurring nationally in this sector. For instance, we participated in a session on “The Business of a Local Data Intermediary” where we joined several partners from other cities and shared what works and what does not work form the business modeling side of our work. This year, NNIP officially welcomed three new partner cities: Houston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. We connected with these colleagues in the earlier stages of their website development at The Kinder Institute for Urban Research in Houston and The Sol Price Center for Social Innovation in Los Angeles to share learnings from Shift’s recent rebrand and website launch. And, Jennifer engaged in several conversations with partners interested in learning about the detailed, behind-the-scenes technical work that went into launching our latest mapping tool, the Early Care and Education Map. We caught up with our friend Erica Raleigh at Data Driven Detroit, who will be the keynote speaker at the 2017 Mile High Data Day conference.

  • The Role of Neighborhoods in Health: One session that we found particularly thought provoking addressed the role of neighborhoods in advancing health. As community data intermediaries, we already collect indicators to measure the social determinants of health, or the social, economic and environmental systems that contribute to a community’s health. This session emphasized how NNIP partners can connect with the public and medical health sectors to add additional health-related indicators to provide a holistic picture of neighborhood well-being. In particular, CI:NOW in San Antonio shared how it works with its local health information exchange (HIE) to combine HIE data with local data to better understand neighborhood contexts. This session left us thinking about how we might leverage our partnerships with institutions in public health and health care to better understand our local neighborhood. Shift has a few health-related projects in our pipeline, and it was exciting to participate in a conversation about creating a culture of health.  

  • The City of Baltimore: We also learned about the exciting initiatives and work happening in Baltimore through brief addresses from President and Chief Executive Officer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Elizabeth Pugh, and Kurt L. Schmoke, President of the University of Baltimore and former mayor of the city. Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance presented how it is addressing the impact of significant population loss on neighborhoods through the development of a cultural mapping tool to collect and analyze arts and culture participation in the city to better understand local neighborhood contexts. Finally, we went on neighborhood tours that provided opportunities to learn about everything from trash collection and the Healthy Harbor’s initiative to the City of Baltimore Planning Department’s INSPIRE initiative, which is investing nearly one billion dollars to renovate or replace schools over the next several years. Shift would like to extend a big thank you to our Baltimore hosts at the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance for welcoming everyone to their city for the largest NNIP meeting to date!

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