Practicing data equity when working with administrative/government data?

Hi! I’m new to this space and just read through the Data Equity Framework for the first time. I’m seeing clearly how this applies to research and study design for new data collection, but am not as clear on how it applies to the kind of data work I do - which is primarily aggregating and analyzing New York City’s open government data for the (broad) purpose of “furthering housing justice.” You can see more about one of the groups I’m involved with here:

I developed DAP Portal as a tool that aggregates many housing- and buildings-related datasets from city agencies in a way that can help community groups and tenant advocates identify displacement risk, bad landlord practices, and more.

That’s my attempt at a brief summary of my organization’s approach. I’m wondering if there are resources or discussions about this type of data work. What types of questions should I be asking myself to make sure my data practices are equitable? If not, I’d be happy to discuss with anyone doing similar work!

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Hi! Your work is really exciting. Thanks for sharing!

I work for the City of Fort Collins on climate change issues and climate equity, and at first I also had trouble connecting all the tools to my day to day work, but as I’ve gotten more familiar with them, I see connections and opportunities everywhere :slight_smile: I think the most important piece I’ve learned from Heather is asking “who (whose worldview) is this work/project centering?” And checking to see if that aligns with the motivation and values of your project. I would look more into the motivation touchstone, data biography, and communication tools to get started.


Hi! Thanks for sharing your work and for being curious about how else you can use data equity practices in government.
I work in government on education and equity issues and I agree, it takes some time to figure out “How do I use this?” I appreciate what Adelle shared about who our projects center. I have found the perspective microscope tool helpful for groups to remember there are multiple lenses to use and that we choose which one we’ll use to answer our question. It takes intentionality to come back to the framework but I have got a couple of people interested in it so I think it’s paying off. :slight_smile:


What types of questions should I be asking myself to make sure my data practices are equitable?

Here are my ideas of places to start from glancing at your website-- apologies in advance if I’m suggesting things you’ve already done.

Instead of just asking yourself, I would see who else you can get feedback from. I’m thinking two main groups could give you insight:

  • Whoever is doing the “furthering” of housing justice (advocacy groups? Gov officials? Policymakers? Who is using your data portal to make decisions?)

  • Whoever the data are about (renters? neighborhoods? Other place-based groups?)

It seems like there’s a lot of good info in all those maps on the DAP portal, but as a non-expert I’m not sure where to start or how to use them. Maybe the “furtherers” you’re trying to reach have the expertise to navigate, but maybe they need things presented in a different way? Evaluation through focus groups/surveys/etc. would be helpful, I hope.

And then with maps it can be tricky, because in many cities when you overlay poor outcome data to the same neighborhoods over and over again, it can be stigmatizing. So that’s definitely something to explore too. There may be different ways of framing so you’re focused on systems instead of outcomes (think a map showing the percent of people experiencing bank discrimination vs. homeownership). Obviously this is way easier said than done, but just a couple of ideas for you, and things that could potentially be explored in focus groups with people who live in those neighborhoods if you have the time and money to do that.

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Thank you all so much for those insights and suggestions, they’re really helpful.

I didn’t clarify that I don’t actually work in government, I work in advocacy but use lots of government/administrative data. The purpose of DAP Portal is primarily to give tenant organizers data they need to further their work of forming tenant associations and building campaigns for tenant rights. So when I built DAP tools, I did lots of interviews with organizers to see how the data was serving them, and have gotten very positive feedback since then. And my organization has a membership of many neighborhood-based groups that organize their communities, so we do have good relationships and lines of communication with those groups. However, I’m thinking about a redesign for the next year+, for many of the reasons you brought up ralebeau, and I definitely plan to do extensive research with organizers and other users (which includes elected officials). I agree that we need more info on the website itself about how to use the tool. Currently, there’s a minimum of information on the website and we rely a lot on trainings (which we don’t have enough capacity for).

ralebeau - thank you also for that feedback on framing other maps and research we produce. I’ve definitely been thinking about outcomes- versus system- based framing since coming across some resources here and will continue to do so. I’m really grateful for this community and looking forward to learning more.