Used open data to support community engagement efforts, building partnerships to secure federal funding that helps support safe housing and uses technology to communicate with Buffalo residents.
Communication action plan used advanced data analytics systems to address and eliminate lead poisoning by mapping housing data with public health data in order to target landlord outreach and lead remediation efforts.
Compiled datasets detailing housing inspections, code violations, 311 service requests and more. The city made these datasets accessible to Buffalo residents, giving them information that helps them advocate for their needs.
The Foundation for Change
The successful restart of Buffalo’s efforts began in 2017 with a comprehensive community action plan to eliminate lead poisoning. The report noted that a stunning 61% of children born in Erie County in 2012 had lead in their blood by the age of three; the majority of those kids lived in rental properties in Buffalo. Children in low-income neighborhoods were more likely to be affected.
The granularity of the public health data, and the racial and socioeconomic disparities it highlighted, created a collective sense of urgency. It also demonstrated that Buffalo understood the scope of the problem and could utilize advanced GIS and data analytics systems to address it efficiently. By mapping housing data with public health data, the City could identify areas to target in its landlord outreach and lead remediation efforts.
“Buffalo doesn’t have a health department, so most previous approaches were based on housing statistics, which provided a good indication of what needs to be done but not a lot of information on the impact of lead poisoning on residents,” Mayer says. “That’s what we needed to demonstrate to HUD and other funders.”
The action plan made clear that the scale of Buffalo’s lead problem went beyond the county’s ability to address it, making the case for additional funding, which it received from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and HUD.
Around the same time, Buffalo began working with What Works Cities (WWC) to set up an open data program and create a governance committee with representatives from all city departments. Mayor Byron W. Brown issued Buffalo’s first open data policy in August 2017.