About Us:

Data Driven Detroit (D3) provides accessible, high-quality information and analysis to drive decision-making that strengthens communities in Southeast Michigan.

New Data Portal Design

OpenData

By looking at best practices from other organizations and taking lessons learned from our own implementation, we’ve created a new data portal front page that is more aesthetically pleasing, simpler to navigate and more intuitive.

As one of the very first implementations of the ArcGIS Open Data platform, the D3 data portal beta was good at the time, but not particularly well designed. While the functionality was all there, the initial interface that welcomed people needed a face-lift. We think that you’ll agree that the new interface is an improvement, but in case you aren’t sure why we changed a good thing, here are the highlights about what we’ve done.

First, we’ve stripped out a bunch of text. Our new design offers a less-is-more approach that helps users understand the purpose of the site as well as its contents without requiring users to spend time reading the fine print.  If a lot of text is needed to explain to users how to use a site, it could probably be designed better. In our case, we had limited time initially to design a spiffy interface for our beta product, so we needed to rely on text.

Next, we designed graphics consistent with the D3 brand, so people intuitively know they are working with a D3 product and data. We stand for quality data at D3, and we think that people will feel confident using data if they understand that it is provided by D3.

Finally, we simplified the site, taking away extraneous purposes. Instead, we focused on three major functions:

  1. Locate, distribute and share data: This is the core function of the data portal and it is now more obvious that the data portal is made to locate and access data.
  2. Connect community members that need data with Data Driven Detroit: While we strive to make as much data available through the portal, there will always be a need for staff to help explain how to use data, what else is available and to perform further analysis.
  3. Expose a platform for developers to create new applications that use our data to serve the community:  Our data portal is built on a platform which has a full-featured and well-documented API. The new data portal interface makes it more clear how to access our data through the API.

In the future, we plan to further integrate our data platform architecture into the organization and make more of the data that we produce available to the public. In addition, we are undergoing a major redesign of the D3 web page, which will also work closely with our new data architecture. Look for the new website this summer.

At Data Driven Detroit we strive to make data more accessible for our communities and we feel that this is a big step toward doing that. We would welcome feedback about our new data portal, as well as any ideas for future improvement or new data requests. We hope you like our new data portal experience.

The new data portal interface can be found at the URL: portal.datadrivendetroit.org.

If you’d prefer to use the old interface, it will continue to be available for a limited time at: beta.d3.opendata.arcgis.com.

Email: askD3@datadrivendetroit.org
Facebook: DataDrivenDetroit
Twitter: @D3Detroit

Moms, Place, and Low Birth Weight, Part 3: Place and Race Together

This is the third in a three-part blog series examining correlates of low birth weight in babies born in 2010, 2011, and 2012 in Detroit, Wayne County outside of Detroit, Oakland, and Macomb counties.  Low birth weight (LBW), defined as 2500 grams or less[1], is a significant contributor to Detroit’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate.[2] We offer this analysis in the belief that a better understanding of factors influencing birth weight can help reduce the mortality rate.

The first blog post looked at the associations between a baby’s birth weight and the mother’s age, education, marital status, ethnicity, and race; the level of prenatal care she received; and the area of residence for women within the city of Detroit.  That analysis showed that birth weight was related to the mother’s characteristics for women living in Detroit, although the strength of the relationship depended on the characteristic.

The second blog post compared the findings for Detroit to those for the “Metro Region” ­­–  defined as Wayne County outside of Detroit, Oakland County, and Macomb County — on the same characteristics, in effect asking, “Does place matter?”  We found that by including place of residence along with the mother’s characteristics we gained an even better understanding of demographic influences on birth weight. So yes, place does matter for birth weight for many of the characteristics.

In this third blog post we take the examination of associations between mothers’ demographic characteristics and their children’s birth weight even further by adding another layer to the analysis: the mother’s race.  Because a major difference between Detroit and Metro Region women giving birth during this period is the racial composition of the two groups, and we know that race can have major implications for an individual’s opportunities and well-being, we investigate the effects of combinations of place and race on LBW rates for the various characteristics of the mother.

Source of data

The data for this study came from birth certificate records of babies born in 2010, 2011, and 2012 with the mother’s residence in Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb County. The first blog post in this series described the source in detail.  For the present analysis, we included only those women who were listed on the birth certificate as either Black/African American or White, and created four place-race groups:  Detroit Black, Metro Region Black, Detroit White, and Metro Region White.  In the charts that follow, each group has its own consistent symbol:

(1)  Green diamond:  Detroit Black

(2)  Blue square:  Metro Region Black

(3)  Red triangle:  Detroit White

(4)  Green square:  Metro Region White

On some of the charts it will appear as though only three groups are represented.  This happens when two groups have the same value, resulting in overlapping symbols or when the number of births is so small that the percentages would be unreliable, in which case we’ve removed the symbol.

Mother’s age, race, and place of residence

Figure 1 and Table 1 illustrate that across the age groups, Blacks had higher rates of LBW infants than Whites in both Detroit and the Metro Region, with a slight advantage overall for Blacks residing in the Metro Region rather than in Detroit.

Figure 1 also shows a common pattern among three of the groups – rates that are high for teens, dip down for women in their 20s, and then get worse as mothers get older. Detroit Blacks, Detroit Whites, and Metro Region Blacks had increasing rates of low birth weight babies from ages 20-24 or 25-29 on.[3]  Particularly striking is the percentage of low birth weight babies for Detroit Blacks ages 35 and older (18%).

However, there is a counter trend among Metro Region Whites.  Their rate of low birth weight babies decreased as age increased until age 35 and above.

Table1

Table 1: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s age, area of residence, and race, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

Third LBW blog post Figure 1

Figure 1

Mother’s education, race, and place of residence

In the second blog post we saw that the rate of low birth weight was related to educational attainment in the same way for women living in Detroit and women living in the Metro Region: namely, the greater the educational attainment, the lower the rate of low birth weight.  And that relationship does not change when we add race to the analysis.

The additional information we get by controlling for race is that the LBW rates for Black women are essentially the same or nearly so whether the women live in Detroit or the Metro Region.  Furthermore, the rates of LBW are consistently higher for Blacks than for Whites in both areas[4].  It is also the case that the LBW rates for Detroit Whites are slightly higher than for Metro Region Whites but are closer to Metro Region Whites’ rates than to the LBW rates for Metro Region Black women.

Table2

Table 2: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s education, area of residence, and race, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

Third LBW blog post Figure 2

Figure 2

Mother’s marital status, race, and place of residence

In the first two blog posts, we showed that married women in Detroit and the Metro Region had lower rates of LBW than never married women.  However, Figure 3 and Table 3 illustrate that among married women, the rates of low birth weight were higher for Black women than for White women regardless of area of residence.

Among never married women, Blacks had nearly identical LBW rates whether they lived in Detroit or the Metro Region. On the other hand, never married Detroit White women had a somewhat higher rate than Metro Region White women, placing them midway between Black women and Metro Region White women, a pattern we saw above with age and education.

Table3

Table 3: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s marital status, area of residece, and race, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

Third LBW blog post Figure 3

Figure 3

Mother’s adequacy of prenatal care, race, and place of residence

The relationship between adequacy of prenatal care and birth weight follows the same pattern we have seen with age, education, and marital status:  Black LBW rates are higher than White rates across all three levels of prenatal care adequacy; Black rates in the two regions are more similar to each other than to Whites’ rates; and Detroit Whites’ LBW rates lie midway between the Metro Region’s White rates and Black rates.  Note that the gap between Blacks and Whites’ rates is greatest for adequate care (Figure 4 and Table 4).  Also observe that an intermediate level of prenatal care raises the likelihood of a low birth weight baby relative to an adequate level of care more for Whites than for Blacks.  It is an inadequate level of care, however, that is particularly detrimental to Blacks.

Table4

Table 4: Percentage of LBW singleton births by adequacy of prenatal care, area of residence, and race, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

Third LBW blog post Figure 4

Figure 4

Summary and Future Directions

We began this study of influences on babies’ birth weight with the knowledge that low birth weight is closely related to an increased risk of infant mortality, an especially pressing problem in Detroit.  We wanted to know whether there are some relatively easily identified demographic characteristics of the mother that are associated with the likelihood of having a low birth weight baby.  The Michigan birth certificate contains a number of such characteristics.  We selected seven for our investigation: the mother’s age, education, marital status, ethnicity, and race; the level of prenatal care she received; and her area of residence (Detroit or the Metro Region).

This third blog post builds on the first two and adds a third layer of analysis.  It is clear that a major difference between Detroit and the Metro Region is the racial composition of the populations.  It is equally clear that one’s race can have profound implications for one’s well-being and opportunity.  So the question became, “Would knowing a woman’s race increase our knowledge of the likelihood of her having a low birth weight baby beyond what we know from her other demographic characteristics and her area of residence?  (For reasons of sample size, we restricted this analysis to women classified on the birth certificate as either Black or White.)

For the analysis we constructed four place-race groups:  Detroit Blacks; Detroit Whites; Metro Region Blacks; and Metro Region Whites.  Whether we examined the relationships by women’s age, education, marital status, or level of prenatal care, the results were the same:  Blacks consistently had higher rates of low birth weight for their babies than Whites, whether they lived in Detroit or the Metro Region.  Detroit Whites occupied an intermediate position, generally having somewhat higher rates than Metro Region Whites but typically lower rates than Black women in either region.  In short, both place and race were significant factors for a baby’s birth weight.

However, it appeared that race was more influential than place for the LBW rate among Black women.  This was particularly the case when we looked at the rate by educational attainment and level of prenatal care.  For these two variables, Black women’s rates were very similar whether the women lived in Detroit or the Metro Region.  Place seemed to play a more influential role for White women than for Black women, since Metro Region Whites generally had lower LBW rates than Detroit Whites.

A word of caution:  The results reviewed in these three blog posts were intended only to stimulate conversation about demographic factors influencing birth weight, not to identify which of the factors were most important.  In this initial investigation, we chose to examine the influence of selected demographic characteristics one at a time.   The included characteristics are ones that are recorded on the birth certificate, but there are many other factors such as household income that we have not included in our analyses.  Some of these were not included because the data do not exist on the birth certificate or if they are on the birth certificate, are unreliable.  Other measures such as the mother’s health were excluded as being outside our area of interest.

Looking ahead, there are many other analyses to conduct that will give us a more nuanced understanding of variations in birth weight.  A more insightful analysis, for example, will examine the simultaneous influence of several variables on birth weight.  We may know that educational attainment is related to birth weight in a certain way and even know how the relationship is moderated by race and place of residence.  But if we really want to be able to identify women most likely to have LBW babies, we will want to know which factors are most predictive, and that means we will need to consider multiple factors simultaneously.  This will be the thrust of a future investigation.

 


[1] Very low birth weight is defined as less than 1500 grams.  In this analysis, very low and low are aggregated as “low” birth weight.

[2]  Brown, Sally.  “Detroit Task Force to Reduce Infant Mortality,” Henry Ford Health System News and Research, October 19, 2011.

[3] Because the total number of Detroit Whites is small, (2,511) the LBW percentages for Detroit Whites broken down by age should be viewed with caution.

[4] Because of the small numbers of Metro Region Blacks with an eighth grade education or less and of Detroit Whites with an Associate’s degree, we have eliminated them from Figure 2 and Table 2.

Getting “Trashed” on Opening Day, 2015

We at D3, like many people throughout Detroit, love the Tigers Opening Day celebration. It is a special day that marks the beginning of warm weather, outdoor activities and of course another hopeful season of baseball. Each year throngs of Tigers fans (and those who like an excuse to celebrate) from all over the region head downtown to eat, drink and be merry in advance of the first Tigers home game. Today, as in previous years, thousands of cabin-fever-afflicted fans will visit their favorite tailgating spots, have a few beverages, grill a few ‘dogs, cheer on our team…. and then leave behind a ton of trash. Unfortunately, while the celebration is great for Detroit, it has typically left behind a mess that can take days to clean up.

Tasked with cleaning up much of this trash is Clean Downtown, a program paid for by downtown businesses that picks up trash from about 200 receptacles placed strategically throughout the central business district. They also pick it up from sidewalks, the middle of the street, and everywhere else. According to the Ryan Epstein, who manages the Clean Downtown program for the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) in conjunction with Goodwill Industries, Detroit’s Opening Day celebration produces around ten tons of garbage, which is one of the their biggest trash days of the year. To put that in perspective, a Ford Focus weighs about one and a half tons.

While it is easy to pick up trash contained in cans, much of the Opening Day trash inevitably ends up on the ground, creating more of a burden for the Clean Downtown program and the hard-working crews who help to pick up Detroit’s streets and sidewalks. To help the Clean Downtown crews this opening day, we’ve created a map showing the locations of the receptacles.


 

If you’re a data geek as well as a baseball fan, we’ve made the receptacle locations downloadable via our data portal. The data include the locations of the Clean Downtown receptacles as well as those public receptacles supplied by the city.

Enjoy opening day, and thanks for helping to keep downtown beautiful.

Moms, Place, and Low Birth Weight, Part 2: Does Place Matter?

This is the second in a three-part series examining correlates of low birth weight in babies born in 2010, 2011, and 2012 in Detroit, Wayne County outside of Detroit, Oakland County, and Macomb County.  Low birth weight (LBW), defined as 2500 grams or less[1], is a significant contributor to Detroit’s alarmingly high infant mortality rate.[2]  We offer this analysis in the belief that a better understanding of factors influencing birth weight can help reduce the mortality rate.

The first blog post looked at the associations between birth weight and the mother’s age, education, marital status, ethnicity, and race; the level of prenatal care she received; and the area of residence for women within the city of Detroit.

This second blog post compares the findings for Detroit to those for the “Metro Region” — defined as Wayne County outside of Detroit as well as Oakland County, and Macomb County — on the same characteristics, in effect asking, “Does place matter?”

A glance at the average rates of low birth weight for single births (we exclude multiple births[3]) in Detroit (12%) and the Metro Region (6%) tells us that, yes, place does matter, but it does not tell us why or for whom the differences occur.

So here we’ll look at whether knowing place of residence (Detroit or the Metro Region) adds appreciably to what we already know; namely, that the overall LBW rate for single births (singletons) is twice as high in Detroit as in the Metro Region and how the factors listed above (from the first blog post) were related to birth weight in Detroit.  For example, in the first blog post we showed that, in general, as educational attainment increased for Detroit women, the rate of low birth weight rate decreased.  Does the LBW rate for Metro Region women follow the same pattern but at a lower rate?

Source of data

The data for this study came from birth certificate records of babies born in 2010, 2011, and 2012 with the mother’s residence in Wayne, Oakland, or Macomb Counties. The first blog in this series described the source in detail.

Age

In Table 1 and Figure 1, we compare the association between the mother’s age and the birth weight of her infant in the two regions  The rate for teens in Detroit having a single birth in 2010-2012 was 12%, in line with the rates for other age groups in Detroit up to age 35.  Metro Region teens, however, had a rate 3 to 5 percentage points higher than the rates for other age groups.  Because the Metro Region teens giving birth during these three years constituted just 6% of the total singleton births, their rate had little effect on the average Metro Region rate of 6%.  And place made much less difference in the LBW rate for teens than for other age groups.

The gap in LBW rates between the two regions widened as age increased. The rate for Metro Region women declined with increasing age while the rate for Detroit women through ages 30-34 stayed nearly constant.  The gap reached 7 percentage points for women ages 30-34 and 9 percentage points for women ages 35 and older.  To put these wide gaps into perspective, if Detroit women aged 30 and above had had the LBW rate of Metro Region women of the same age, there would have been 563 fewer LBW births to Detroit women over this three-year period: 421 rather than the 984 that occurred.  Clearly, for age, the place of residence mattered.

LBW_Post2_Table1_1

Table 1: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s age, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010 – 2012

LBW_Post2_Figure1

Figure 1

Educational attainment

Next we turn to the relationship between educational attainment and birth weight. Table 2 and Figure 2 show that except for women with an eighth grade education or less, the low birth weight rate declined – sometimes very little — with increasing levels of education.  For the Detroit women, the most noticeable drop (2 percentage points) from the average rate[4] did not occur until women had a bachelor’s degree or higher – and that was just 5% of the women having single births during this period.  For Metro Region women, graduating from high school was associated with a drop of 2 percentage points in the low birth weight rate.  Receiving an associates or higher degree was associated with a further decline of 2 percentage points.

In contrast to age, then, the effect of educational attainment on birth weight was similar in both Detroit and the Metro Region:  The higher the level of education, the lower the LBW rate.

LBW_Post2_Table2_1

Table 2: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s educational attainment, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

LBW_Post2_Figure2

Figure 2

Marital status

We divided the mother’s marital status into three categories:  never married, married, and widowed or divorced. The latter two categories accounted for 2% of the Detroit women (509) and 3% of the Metro Region women (2,726).  Because the widowed or divorced group is a relatively small group in both areas and one with two different marital situations, we have excluded it from the analysis.

For both Metro Region and Detroit women, marital status made a difference in the rate of low birth weight, with marriage conferring a 3 to 4 percentage point advantage in both areas (Table 3 and Figure 3). That advantage, however, was a smaller contributor to the average LBW in Detroit than in the Metro Region because a far smaller percentage of the Detroit women were married (19%) than of the Metro Region women (68%).

LBW_Post2_Table3_1

Table 3: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s marital status, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

LBW_Post2_Figure3

Figure 3

Ethnicity and Race

LBW_Post2_Table4_1

Table 4: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s ethnicity, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

The Hispanic population constituted 10% of the Detroit population and 5% of the Metro Region population, and there was essentially no difference in their low birth weight rates (see Table 4 and Figure 4).  In this sense, place did not matter for the Hispanic rate.  In another sense, though, it did matter.  We could have expected that the Hispanic LBW rate would be lower even than 6% in the Metro Region simply because of the overall average difference in the two regions’ rates, but it was not.

The Non-Hispanic rates differed by 6 percentage points, however, reflecting the overall average singleton LBW rates of 12% in Detroit and 6% in the Metro Region.  This difference is not surprising since the Non-Hispanic population of the Detroit women giving birth to one or more singleton births from 2010-2012 was 90% Black, with its average rate of 13%, while the comparable Non-Hispanic population of Metro Region women was 74% White with an average rate of 5%[5]. (See Table 5 and Figure 4).

Figure 4 starkly illustrates that both place (Detroit and Metro Region) and race (Black and White) mattered for babies’ birth weight, although for both Blacks and Whites place had less effect than simply being Black or White.  Race-place interaction is something we will explore in the third blog post in this series.

LBW_Post2_Table5_1

Table 5: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s race, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

LBW_Post2_Figure4

Figure 4

Prenatal care

While the relationship between the level of prenatal care and birth weight followed the same pattern in the two regions, receiving inadequate care had a greater impact on birth weight for Detroit women than for Metro Region women (Table 6 and Figure 5).  In Detroit, receiving inadequate care as opposed to adequate or intermediate care was associated with an increase of 5 points in the percentage of LBW babies. One-sixth (16%) of the singleton babies born from 2010-2012 to Detroit women receiving inadequate prenatal care were low birth weight babies.  The singleton LBW rate for Metro Region women receiving inadequate care was lower but still constituted 10% of their singleton births during this three-year period.

Of particular note in Table 6 are the number and percentage of women who received inadequate prenatal care[6]:  an average per year of 1,665 women (18%) in Detroit from 2010-2012 and 3,099 women (9%) in the Metro Region.

LBW_Post2_Table6_1

Table 6: Percentage of LBW singleton births by mother’s level of prenatal care, Detroit and Metro Region, 2010-2012

LBW_Post2_Figure5

Figure 5

Geographical distribution of low birth weight babies in Detroit and the Metro Region

Figure 6 places Detroit in the context of the three-county Metro Region, illustrating the percentage of low birth weight singleton babies born to mothers in the years 2010-2012 by census tract.  While Detroit has the greatest concentration of census tracts with comparatively high LBW rates, there are clusters of higher rates along Grand River Avenue in Macomb County; in the Pontiac area; just north of the Detroit boundary; and in southern Wayne County.

Region_Birth_Weight

Figure 6

Summary

We began this blog post by asking, “Does place matter?”  To phrase the question differently, suppose that we want to predict how likely women 30 and older in the Metro Region would be to have a low birth weight baby.  We know that overall the average low birth weight rate for 2010-2012 was 6 percentage points higher for women living in Detroit than in the Metro Region (12% vs. 6% respectively).  We also know, from the first blog post, the average LBW rate for women  age 30 or above living in Detroit.  So we can ask the question like this: From these two pieces of information, would we get a reasonable prediction of the LBW rate for women 30 and older living in the Metro Region?

The answer:  Probably not.   The answer, though, depends on the characteristic being investigated.  Place made virtually no difference in the LBW rate for Hispanic women in the two areas (both had a quite low rate: 6%) and small differences for teenagers, women with an eighth grade education or less, and Black women.  Area of residence did influence the LBW rate for women aged 20 and above (the rate increased with age in Detroit and decreased or leveled off in the Metro Region) and for women with different levels of prenatal care (the difference was especially large for Detroit women receiving inadequate prenatal care compared to such women in the Metro Region).  For education and marital status, the patterns were more likely to match expectations.

In the third blog, we will take this examination of associations between mothers’ demographic characteristics and their children’s birth weight further.  Because a major difference between Detroit and Metro Region women giving birth during this period is the racial composition of the two groups, and we know that race can have major implications for an individual’s opportunities and well-being, it makes sense to examine the combinations of place and race on rates of low birth weight for the various characteristics of the mother.  In the third blog, then, we construct four place-race groups (Detroit Blacks; Detroit Whites; Metro Region Blacks; Metro Region Whites) enabling us to ask, “Does place trump race in its effect on birth weight?”  As the next post will show, for the characteristics we examined, the answer is clear.

 


[1] Very low birth weight is defined as less than 1500 grams.  In this analysis, very low and low are aggregated as “low” birth weight.

[2] Brown, Sally.  “Detroit Task Force to Reduce Infant Mortality,” Henry Ford Health System News and Research, October 19, 2011.

[3] Multiple births are excluded because they have a known high rate of low birth weight.

[4] As a result of missing data on educational attainment, the average rate for the entire area shown in the table (here 11% for Detroit) differs from the average rate for the entire group (12% for Detroit).

[5] 90% of the Non-Hispanic population of Detroit women giving birth in 2010-2012 were Black, 7% White, and 3% other race, while 74% of the Non-Hispanic mothers in the Metro Region were White, 18% were Black, 6% Asian or Asian Indian, and 2% other race.

[6] The Kessner Index assigns a value of adequate, intermediate, or inadequate to the level of prenatal care a woman received.  The Michigan Department of Community Health Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics explains the Index as,  “… a classification of prenatal care based on the month of pregnancy in which prenatal care began, the number of prenatal visits and the length of pregnancy (i.e. for shorter pregnancies, fewer prenatal visits constitute adequate care).”

Data Show Where Detroit’s Students Live

Detroit is a big place, and the demand for schools can’t be the same equally across the city, especially since there are such large differences between thriving and disinvested areas. Because the education landscape continues to be a topic of much discussion, we recently put an approximated student location data set to good use by creating an interpolated model showing where Detroit public school students are concentrated.  The model indicates that there are several areas of Detroit with higher concentrations of students attending public schools (defined here as local, charter and Education Achievement Authority).

Using interpolation to create a modeled surface entails approximating values of certain characteristics at all locations between known observations. In this case, our observations were the number of students per block, and that number was spatially located at the center of each block. Between the centers of each census block, we applied a mathematical formula that models the likely value at each point, taking into consideration the values of student counts in nearby blocks. The interpolation process is based on the premise that observations that are close in space are likely to have similar value, so in-between values are estimated based on nearby actual observations.

The resulting model can’t be used to determine actual counts at any one location. For example, the model erroneously shows students residing on Belle Isle, which is the result of Belle Isle being a large census block. In addition, the model could look considerably different depending on the assumptions made (the size of the grid or the weighting, for instance). Instead of regarding these values as actual observations, the model should be regarded as showing a spatial trend. While not precise, this smoothed spatial trend allows us to see areas of generalized higher concentration.

Modeled map showing where students are concentrated.

Modeled map showing where students are concentrated.

In the map above, orange and red indicate the highest numbers of students who attend public Detroit schools per area. As you can see, concentrations of these students exist around Lafayette Park, within the apartment complexes along 1-75 between Mack and Warren, and in Southwest Detroit, with smaller concentrations in Warrendale and around East English Village, on the far east side.

Conversely, large sections of the interior of Detroit, especially east and southeast of Hamtramck, show the fewest students. This situation isn’t completely surprising, given that this area of the city has high vacancy rates, large numbers of vacant lots and some of the worst building conditions in the city, according to the Motor City Mapping survey. The map below shows numbers of existing structures as a percentage of parcels per block group. The lighter colors represent areas of the city that have a higher percentage of vacant lots. While not perfectly accurate, these areas line up fairly well with the areas in the previous map showing the lowest concentrations of students — with the exception of Southwest Detroit. Southwest Detroit, with its large Hispanic population, is known to have higher birth rates than other parts of the city. These birth rates would explain the higher concentrations of students despite a higher number of vacant lots.

PercentStructures

Percent Existing Structures, by Block Group, Winter 2013

Generally speaking, this model illustrates the areas of the city where a relatively higher school capacity (higher number of student “seats”) is needed and areas where less capacity may be warranted. Of course, there are other criteria to evaluate in addition to proximity to students. Factors such as the number and quality of existing nearby schools, physical barriers such as highways, and societal barriers such as language and ethnicity are all important considerations as well.

While these data and maps are not prescriptive by themselves, they represent an important tool for policymakers working toward improving the climate for education in Detroit. Further layers of data would need to be added to this analysis to paint a more precise picture, but, optimistically speaking, the data and tools are becoming available to make data-driven decisions on education.

Exploring Student Dispersion Maps

Since the 2011-12 school year, Data Driven Detroit (D3) has created a series of maps that illustrate the spatial patterns related to where students from different areas in Detroit attend school or where students from different schools live (see our previous blog post introducing the project). This year’s data, from the October 2013 student count, [Read on...]

Moms, Place, and Low Birth Weight, Part 1: Detroit

In an influential January 30, 2014 Detroit News article entitled “Detroit is Deadliest City for Children,” the author, Karen Bouffard, wrote, “In 2010, Detroit (population about 713,000) and Cleveland (population about 390,000) had the highest infant mortality rates of Big City America: 13.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births — higher than [Read on...]

Uphill Both Ways: Where are the Jobs in Metro Detroit?

This post is the second in a series focused on employment and commuting patterns in Detroit and the surrounding region.

In the first post of the “Uphill Both Ways” series, we looked at employment of lower-earning residents in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park in communities that have opted out of the SMART public transportation [Read on...]

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan Announces City Open Data Portal

Today, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan made a monumental announcement, releasing the City’s first Open Data Portal. The portal will provide access to many datasets that have never been released publicly for download, including data on building permits and crime. This announcement marks an important development in city policies that encourage transparency and accessibility. It [Read on...]

Uphill Both Ways: Chronicling Metro Detroit’s Transit Mismatch

This is the first post in a new D3 blog series looking at employment and commuting patterns in Detroit and the surrounding region.

The recent Detroit Free Press feature on James Robertson, a Detroit resident who faces a four-hour commute to his job in Rochester that can involve twenty-one miles of walking, provides a new [Read on...]