Prof. Iyer: Every Neighborhood Has a 'Physiology,' and Data Help Us Understand How That Works
August 25, 2021
Contact: Office of Advancement and External Relations
Seema Iyer, research associate professor for The University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business and associate director of the Jacob France Institute, home of the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA), speaks with Technical.ly Baltimore in a video about the city's future direction, from the perspective of the city's many neighborhoods.
Data gathering and analysis, Prof. Iyer says, can lead to an understanding of a neighborhood's "physiology"—what is driving that area to experience problems, or find solutions. Baltimore, she points out, was the first city in the nation to have a 311 portal for resolving issues like broken water mains and potholes.
"Those are sensors" for a neighborhood's overall well-being, she says. "We need constant sensors" to understand this physiology: data function best when the points are built over time. Iyer notes that while data are an important piece of the puzzle of any neighborhood, actually getting to know the residents and business owners who live and work there is how a place can become more livable. This has an economic effect, she says, which spreads from neighborhood to neighborhood. And it starts with data.
"It can't just be that one sector of the economy knows about neighborhood data," Iyer says. "because neighborhoods matter to everybody. Neighborhoods matter because we live there, work there, drive through there. Neighborhoods matter because they are our city."
BNIA, she says, gathers hundreds of data points from multiple sources for its Vital Signs report. The report is used by advocates from both the public and private sectors to lead improvement efforts across Baltimore.
Watch the Technical.ly Baltimore video.
Learn more about Prof. Iyer.