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.
April 29, 2017, 1pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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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. 

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Published on Monday, April 10, 2017 in NextCity
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