Using Big Data to Identify Problem Properties

In New York state, municipalities can apply to use a new tool that gathers property data and sifts for red flags. The intent is to identify potential blight before it sets in.

1 minute read

April 29, 2017, 1:00 PM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Detroit Vacant Properties

alisafarov / Shutterstock

Oscar Perry Abello gives us an anecdote: two properties, one successfully rehabilitated and another left to the whim of absentee landlords and problem tenants. With new data tools like the one New York state is using, municipalities may be able to pinpoint these problem properties. 

The issue is that in many cities, "the department of finance uses one filing system to track tax liens, the utilities providers use another, the building code enforcement uses another, the housing authority uses another, and the police department uses another."

A tool called BuildingBlocks, from Boston-based OpportunitySpace Inc, will "reconcile databases of all kinds, from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to ancient IBM AS/400 database systems. Up to 40 municipalities with a minimum population of 25,000 will be part of the program, which is funded using settlement dollars recovered by the attorney general's office."

Abello mentions that the tool's ability to pinpoint specific properties could help municipalities concerned about unfairly targeting certain communities for code enforcement. 

Monday, April 10, 2017 in NextCity

stack of books

Planetizen’s Top Planning Books of 2023

The world is changing, and planning with it.

November 24, 2023 - Planetizen Team

Close-up of 'Red Line Subway Entry' sign with Braille below and train logo above text in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Red Line Extension Could Transform the South Side

The city’s transit agency is undertaking its biggest expansion ever to finally bring rail to the South Side.

November 24, 2023 - The Architect's Newspaper

Diagram of visibility at urban intersection.

How ‘Daylighting’ Intersections Can Save Lives

Eliminating visual obstructions can make intersections safer for all users.

November 27, 2023 - Strong Towns

Aerial view of San Jose, California downtown at night.

San Jose Affordable Housing Development Gains Approval

A proposed project is moving forward with reduced building heights and all-affordable units.

58 minutes ago - The Mercury News

Green painted bike lane protected by rown of parking.

Oklahoma City Begins Work on Parking-Protected Bike Lane

The project is part of the city’s broader plan to improve bike and pedestrian infrastructure and road safety.

1 hour ago - The Oklahoman

Blurred dense crowd of people with no recognizable faces walking in a busy city.

How Cities Can Avoid Perpetuating Segregation

Residents of big cities, known as the ‘melting pots’ of America, have fewer interactions with people outside their socioeconomic group than those in smaller communities, according to new research.

2 hours ago - Stanford News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

"Rethinking Commuter Rail" podcast & Intercity Bus E-News

Chaddick Institute at DePaul University

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.