Yesterday, I praised the improved transparency and usability of government databases. Today, I use an excellent example, courtesy of Washington and New York. It's US Census data and a user interface provided by The New York Times.
After the jump, does your Richardson neighborhood feel less crowded than it did ten years ago?
A good example of improved usability is what The New York Times has done with data from the 2010 Census. For example, type "Richardson, TX" in the search box in the upper right on the web page with the US map to see census data for Richardson. (You'll have to zoom in a little. Or type ZIP code "75080" in the search box and zoom out a little. Improved usability is an evolving thing. ;-)
Richardson's overall population grew 8.1% between 2000 and 2010, but that growth was not evenly distributed throughout Richardson. The map colors indicate where that growth is. No surprise, Richardson's previously less developed Breckinridge panhandle area is growing rapidly. Another growth area straddles Campbell Rd east of Central Expressway. Yet another is northwest Richardson surrounding UT-Dallas. What surprised me is that many older areas of Richardson are actually showing negative growth.
My first takeaway from this map is that Richardson's identification of DART light rail and UT-Dallas as being engines of growth is spot on. The neighborhoods just east of Central Expressway, where the DART Red Line runs, are where the only growth in Richardson's older neighborhoods is happening. Richardson should not take its eyes off that ball.
My second takeaway is that Richardson needs to pick up the pace in its neighborhood revitalization efforts to turn around the population loss in our other older neighborhoods. We need programs that target the worst of the decline at the heart of this population loss.
My third takeaway is that all levels of government, including local government in Richardson, need to constantly improve not only transparency into the work of government, but in the usability of the data being made available.