It seems that even during these uncertain times, when you get a chance to celebrate—you do it! That is exactly what the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore recently did—they celebrated their 20th anniversary with one of the most compelling week of events.
Traditionally BNIA-JFI offers a one-day series of community-oriented workshops to delve deeper into Baltimore’s data and the annual Vital Signs report. But this year, one day wasn’t going to address the magnitude issues being covered so the event has expanded to become “Baltimore Data Week.” Over the course of a week, the workshops helped city neighborhoods access data for their communities and helped policy leaders better understand the nuances of each neighborhood, a little better.
There were 20 virtual sessions, ranging from panel discussions to workshops to "mapathons" that were offered. Community leaders, nonprofit organizations, governmental entities, and civic-minded technologists in Baltimore and around the world can come together to see the latest trends in community-based data, and learn how other groups are using data to support and advance constructive change. Baltimore Data Week was structured around a series of how-to, interactive workshops in which participants who work with data will explain what data are available, where to find and access it, and how this essential information can be actionable for communities.
With a large range of content, time slots, speakers, and skill levels, there was something here for everyone.
Seema Iyer, associate director, research assistant professor in the Jacob France Institute, and leader of BNIA, believes marking the 20th anniversary of the project was vitally important. Not only did more people get an opportunity to see the open source data come alive throughout the week, the presentations revealed Baltimore's storyline in these uncertain times.
“We know there are a lot of people and businesses struggling right now and the immediate future seems uncertain. But we thought maintaining our annual event was an important sign that could shine a light on so many people and organizations that are using data to keep our city and neighborhoods strong. We are overwhelmed by the discussions and participation. And grateful for the many, many well-wishes we’ve received from new and old friends over the past 20 years.”
New this year the Vital Signs report had added COVID-19 data and data that expands into Baltimore County, Md.
"For the first time ever, after 20 years, we are prepared #VitalSigns indicators for Baltimore County," said Iyer in a Linkedin post. "We know neighborhood issues don't stop at the City/County line and communities in the county need access to data like we've had in the City for two decades. You can see daily COVID-19 test counts along with ten critical indicators for housing, economic and digital insecurity.
Check out the BNIA.org website for a full picture of the Vital Signs project or view the recorded Facebook Live events throughout Baltimore Data Week.