UMSI project informs Jackson residents of homes slated for demolition

The City of Jackson is planning to demolish more than 100 homes in the coming months and UMSI students are making it easy for residents to find out exactly which homes and buildings are coming down.

City staff, under the direction of UMSI students and officials, worked to put together an interactive map using Google Maps because they wanted to make the interface familiar and easier for the public to navigate, according to Jackson City Councilman Derek Dobies, 6th Ward. The map is broken down by all six wards, and users can zoom in to get a street view of each property. It shows the parcel identification number, the address, the ward, the demolition cost and the potential rehabilitation cost.

“Removing vacant, dilapidated structures has been a top priority over the last two years as we’ve worked to clean up our city,” Dobies said. “We want to get that information out in a more visible and intelligible way. The more citizens are engaged, the better decisions we can make.”

View the map by clicking here.

The map is part of the Citizen Interaction Design (CID) partnership between UMSI and Jackson to help the city interact with the people of Jackson and provide them with vital information, said Dobies and Scott TenBrink, UMSI CID Project Manager. The goal is to have all the homes demolished or fixed up by the end of 2014. The map will be updated as more homes are added and taken away.

“Access to information is the first step towards engaged citizenship,” TenBrink said. “How do these structures and their demolition impact housing values, crime rates, and the health and safety of neighborhoods? These are all questions that people can answer with this data as a starting point.”

Jackson City Council voted to partner with UMSI in June to develop information tools to revolutionize the way residents interact with their local government. The three-year project involves students developing mobile apps and social media tools to enhance communication between Jackson citizens and city leaders and it costs the city nothing.

CID partners plan to create more data, maps, and applications in the coming years to help visualize community problems or issues and promote constructive, effective communication. The next interactive project in the works is “Tips by Text,” which allows Jackson residents to report crime anonymously via text messaging.

Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013