April 22, 2014

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Article

New Utah Community Data Project Makes Demographic Data Publicly Available

Press Release

April 22, 2014

Salt Lake City — The Utah Community Data Project has launched an updated online system for community-level demographic, housing and socioeconomic data. The system uses software that helps users visualize and interact with information gathered from a variety of public and private sources. A growing selection of data profiles is available for a variety of geographies, including cities, census tracts and political districts.

“The Utah Community Data Project is a great example of how the state’s flagship university serves the people of Utah,” said David Pershing, president of the University of Utah. “Its work collecting and turning complex data into easily navigable graphics and demographic breakdowns will serve local government and nonprofit agencies well into the future. More easily accessible and understandable information has the potential to improve the lives of all of the state’s citizens.”

The Utah Community Data Project, or UCDP, is housed within the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at that University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, and it was designed to collect, store and disseminate data to help policy-makers gain insight into Utah communities and shifting trends. The UCDP is on track to build a neighborhood-level information system that is unprecedented in its breadth of information, and in its means of “democratizing data” so that Utahns from all walks of life can access academically defensible and transparent data.

“We are in the midst of a great demographic, economic and cultural transformation,” said Pamela Perlich, director of UCDP. “Most importantly, this increasing complexity and diversity varies dramatically by neighborhood and community. While many states and communities throughout the nation have programs similar to what we are building, no such system exists in Utah.”

After a soft launch in the spring of 2013, the site is now fully functional thanks to the implementation of an array of open-source software by the David Eccles School of Business IT team. In particular, the use of WEAVE (Web-based Analysis and Visualization Environment) allows users to take data from massive databases and quickly turn it into simple visual applications.

WEAVE visualizations allow users to zero in on a number of desired data breakdowns; the UCDP site currently hosts nearly 100 different WEAVE applications, covering such subjects as age, race, ethnicity, household type and household size. New WEAVE applications are continually being added to the site as the UCDP gains access to more data.

The launch of the UCDP was supported through a Salt Lake County sustainability grant, contracted research from Salt Lake City, the University of Utah and the David Eccles School of Business.

The UCDP can be accessed at http://ucdp.utah.edu/.

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