UMSI students’ website delivers distressed property info to Jackson residents

An interactive map from the Distressed Property Report website points out the locations of condemned, demolished and repaired houses in Jackson, Michigan

Students at the University of Michigan School of Information have created a website for the City of Jackson, Michigan that allows users to report distressed properties, discover the process that occurs once a house is considered unsafe, and to search for information on specific streets and addresses. 

The Distressed Property Report, which is linked from the city’s website, was created as part of UMSI’s Citizen Interaction Design (CID) project to help keep residents informed of city government actions that impact their daily lives.

UMSI master’s students Michael McCaslund, Lingbo Guo and Jim Rampton, who are working as summer interns for the city, designed and developed the site. The Distressed Property Report uses an interactive map to show locations of condemned, demolished and repaired houses. The site also contains estimates of the cost to repair vs. demolish a specific house.

The information in the report may aid purchasers of foreclosed properties sold at auction by the county to identify the current status of a property and learn whether it has been scheduled for demolition or has already been razed.

This is the second website created for the City of Jackson by CID students this summer. McCaslund, Guo, and Rampton worked with fellow UMSI master’s student Clara McClenon to develop, a one-stop information center for Dig Downtown Jackson, a yearlong city project to rebuild the aging infrastructure of downtown Jackson. 

The website explains why it is happening, when and where it is occurring, and what to expect over the next several months. It also provides an interactive model of what cosmetic and structural changes will occur along Main Street.

Citizen Interaction Design is part of the UMSI Initiative for Information Impact. The CID program represents a three-year commitment between two partners, the School of Information and the City of Jackson, to develop and employ new information tools to increase citizen engagement with local government. The program includes a summer internship component and a Jackson project manager to facilitate interactions with appropriate personnel and provide on-site guidance.

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Posted August 12, 2014