LocalData: An App for Grassroots Planning

A free digital toolkit allowing communities to collect, analyze, and share their own data will be launched nationally at the end of the year.

October 11, 2012, 12:00 PM PDT

By Jessica Hsu


"LocalData," writes Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, "disrupts convention by putting expert tools in the hands of communities, letting everyone get their hands (digitally) dirty with an easy-to-understand interface." Developed by 2012 Code for America fellows Alicia Rouault, Matt Hampel, and Prashant Singh, the app is "poised to revolutionize how communities collect and leverage data."

"All across the nation, community groups are out in their neighborhoods, collecting information about where they live," says Rouault. "But they're doing it in a cumbersome way." Campbell-Dollaghan explains, "Typically, this process is divided between on-the-ground volunteers who collect the data, and urban planners who glean meaning from it." LocalData helps communities analyze and visualize the data they collect without professional assistance.

The app, which has been field-tested by local advocates in Detroit, works by allowing a community to easily create a survey and record results on their smartphones. The collected information is automatically visualized, mapped, and made downloadable for further analysis. Campbell Dollaghan notes, "With the free toolkit, the people who are culling the data--who arguably know the most about the issues at hand--can crunch it, too."

The national launch of LocalData is slated for the end of the year, and the developers intend for the app to remain free. "We tried to make it [LocalData] as inclusive as possible," Rouault adds. "We're really proud of that thinking."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 in Fast Company Co.Design

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