Auditioning a Data Platform

As efforts to develop a community data collaborative here in Sarasota County continue, it becomes increasingly apparent that we need a well-designed online platform to gather, store, share, and make sense of local data.  One platform currently under consideration is the Community Platform, created by folks at the Urban Institute.  This is a web-based system that provides "a broad range of interactive tools for finding and tracking information, building online and on-the-ground teams, and taking action." 

Two weeks ago, SCOPE brought Tom Pollak of the Urban Institute to Sarasota, and a small group of local data stewards and enthusiasts met with him to explore whether the Community Platform might be comprehensive and flexible enough to serve as the virtual infrastructure for our community data collaborative, and as a powerful means of both democratizing data and enhancing sensemaking (as well as decision-making) here in Sarasota County. People from the Economic Development Corporation, the Herald-Tribune, Ringing College, IBM (retired), and various departments of Sarasota County government and SCOPE participated. 

The discussion generated a clearer articulation of the local "theory of community change" that guides data efforts here in Sarasota County.  It also surfaced some data resources and assets currently in use in our local community.  Participants posed tough questions of Tom Pollak in order to figure out whether the Community Platform is right for us, and will continue to work together to discern whether it makes sense for us to collaborate with the Urban Institute as a beta site, to seek out another national partner, or to develop our own platform.  Stay tuned...