Blog Archive

January 2013

Creative State Michigan 2012: The D3 Experience

Billy Hunter, Project Manager

ArtServe Michigan, in collaboration with Data Driven Detroit, has released its latest Creative State Michigan report. For the second year running, the report reveals the economic importance of the arts and cultural institutions in Michigan’s economy. From the press release: “The report details economic and social data from 346 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, representing an estimated 17 percent of the more than 2,000 cultural groups operating statewide… Among its most compelling data, the report affirms the creative economy as a significant growth sector and strategic opportunity for Michigan’s economy. From 2006 to 2011, the number of arts-related jobs increased by 15 percent to 85,656 jobs in Michigan, while arts-related businesses increased by 65 percent to 28,072.”

The Creative State Michigan report makes use of the Cultural Data Project, which was founded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to collect information about the economic impact of cultural institutions at the state and local levels. In Michigan, the CDP collected much of its data through the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs. The Council is a major grantmaker for Michigan cultural organizations, and requires its grantees to submit information to the Cultural Data Project.

D3’s role in the Creative State Michigan project was the analysis and interpretation of the data collected by the Cultural Data Project. To help ArtServe find the most compelling illustrations of the creative sector in Michigan’s economy, we created interactive tools that allowed them to dynamically view a complete package of economic indicators for cultural organizations of all sizes across multiple years.

All of these factors – the Cultural Data Project’s creation of a powerful data set, assisted by the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs; D3’s cross-sectional analysis of that data across multiple years; and ArtServe’s design of the final report – have come together to advance ArtServe Michigan’s public policy campaign for culture and the arts. The opportunity to work with ArtServe Michigan to quantify the economic value of culture and the arts across our state continues to be a pleasure, and provides one component of an increasing D3 portfolio of research in the culture and arts sector.

Meet The D3 Staff: Nate Barnes

This Q&A is the second in a series of profiles of Data Driven Detroit staff members.

Nate Barnes was first introduced to Data Driven Detroit through Assistant Director of Projects Erica Raleigh in October 2011 at a Wayne State University event. He began interning at D3 shortly thereafter. As a data analyst, Nate primarily focuses his skillset on Census birth and death rates, and is currently working on labor forecasts in Michigan. When Nate is not taking on massive data sets, he can be found coaching soccer at Detroit Cristo Rey High School.

Nate Barnes: data analyst and avid Detroit City Football Club supporter.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Vienna, West Virginia.  2010 population:  10,749.

Where did you go to school?
I spent my freshman year at Marietta College in Ohio. I transferred to Michigan State University the following year and graduated in 2005. I’m currently pursuing a master’s degree at Wayne State University.

What is your degree in? Why did you choose your degree?
I have a political science BA, and my MA will be in urban planning. When I transferred to MSU, I switched my major from English to Political Science. Two years as an English student prepped me for report-writing, but I found policy and planning to be more engaging than Keats.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us?
I’ve taken off in an airplane more times than I’ve landed in an airplane.

What is your history with Detroit?
I’ve officially been a Detroiter for close to three years. Before I moved to the city, I would drive from Lansing to catch concerts or sporting events. My wife currently works for the Detroit Institute of Arts, and two generations of her family were born and raised in the city.

What did you do before working at D3?
I was a content manager for a small web-based educational tool developer. Before that, I worked the graveyard shift preparing news briefs for federal agencies.

What do you like about working at D3? How do you think the work you are doing benefits the city/region?
There’s a measure of satisfaction to be had from making sense of raw data. It’s sort of fun to stare down a hydra-like database and slay it with queries. Having the opportunity to share our research (and debunk a few bothersome Detroit-centric myths) adds a great deal of meaning to the nerdtastic work we all do at D3.

What is your favorite D3 map or data visualization?
I’m usually a sucker for our dot density maps, and I also dig our student dispersion maps. However, my favorite graphic would have to be Charles Joseph Minard’s 1869 data map depicting Napoleon’s ill-fated 1812 Russian campaign– simple, honest, and incredibly effective.

What is your favorite type of data?
All types (no, really). I prefer to have several different types of data presented in concert. Knowing that Detroit’s population dropped by a quarter between 2000 and 2010 tells you little-to-nothing without contextual data.

Who or what inspired you to take the path to Detroit, data or both?
Before moving to Detroit, I committed myself to learning as much as possible about my new home. Though I had a vague idea of its history and geography, I felt that it was necessary to have a deeper understanding of Detroit in order to be an engaged citizen. Ignorance – of place or time or culture – is inexcusable (especially when we have instant access to the requisite data). Books, newspapers, blogs, conversations with residents, and maps all provided me with a baseline of city (and regional) knowledge. So in that sense, Detroit inspired me to take the path toward data. In the relatively short period of time that I’ve been a Detroiter, I’ve come to realize that data collection never ends.

The Molecule Behind the Crime

Morgan Robinson, Senior Analyst

A recent article in Mother Jones, “America’s Real Criminal Element: Lead,” by Kevin Drum explores the statistical link between childhood lead exposure and criminal behavior later in life. In major cities across the board, Drum associates a dramatic upward shift in crime rates during the 1970’s with associated with the introduction of leaded gasoline two decades earlier, and the drop in violent crimes nationwide in the mid-nineties with the switch to unleaded gasoline in the 1970’s. No other common explanation of crime: policing techniques, availability of illegal drugs, economic conditions, or otherwise, is as highly correlated as is the presence of lead in gasoline.

Last week, the City of Detroit announced the official crime statistics for 2012: 386 criminal homicides occurred last year, up from 344 in 2011. As examined in a December 28th Free Press article (pdf), the homicide rate followed a trend similar to that of the national crime rate:  rising dramatically in the late 1960’s, peaking in the late 1980’s, and falling to 1970’s levels presently.  Major crime overall, however, is down 2.42 percent from 2011, and is 11.47 percent lower than 2010 levels. The official 2012 crime statistics released last week can be viewed via mlive (pdf); more detailed reports are available through the City of Detroit.

As the maps below show, childhood rates of lead poisoning have shifted dramatically over the past ten years. This is due in great part to preventative efforts at the federal, state, and local levels.

If the relationship between lead poisoning and crime holds, the numbers in Detroit should soon begin to benefit from decades of progress.

Although leaded gasoline and paint are no longer in use today, soil can remain polluted with lead released decades ago, and many older homes contain lead paint. Drum suggests that at the federal level, investing $20 billion per year in removing lead from homes and soil would result in $150 billion in savings annually due to reduced crime. HUD’s total budget for lead hazard reduction in 2012 was roughly $125 million, and the CDC’s budget for lead poisoning prevention and asthma control combined was a paltry $32.6 million. Could we continue to invest in lead abatement now to reduce crime to pre-1960’s levels over the next twenty years? 

New Census Projections Underscore Changing Demographics

Kurt Metzger, Director

Figure 1. Projected National Race and Ethnic Trends, 2015 - 2060

New population projections from the Census Bureau make it quite clear that the U.S. population will be considerably older and more racially and ethnically diverse by 2060. These projections of the nation’s population by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, which cover the years 2012-2060, are the first set of population projections based on the 2010 Census.

“The next half century marks key points in continuing trends — the U.S. will become a plurality nation, where the non-Hispanic white population remains the largest single group, but no group is in the majority,” said Acting Director Thomas L. Mesenbourg.

Furthermore, the population is projected to grow much more slowly over the next several decades than previously forecast, due to lower levels of projected births and net international migration.

According to the projections, the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2012 and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The older population would represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period, up from one in seven today. The increase in the number of the “oldest old” would be even more dramatic — those 85 and older are projected to more than triple from 5.9 million to 18.2 million, reaching 4.3 percent of the total population.

The non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, and, unlike other race or ethnic groups, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.

Meanwhile, the Hispanic population will more than double to 128.8 million in 2060, accounting for nearly one in three U.S. residents.

The black population is expected to increase to 61.8 million, as its share rises slightly, from 13.1 to 14.7 percent.

The Asian population is projected to more than double to 34.4 million, with its share climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent.

Among the remaining race groups, American Indians and Alaska Natives would increase by more than half to 6.3 million, with their share edging up from 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent. The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population is expected to nearly double, from 706,000 to 1.4 million. The number of people who identify themselves as being of two or more races is projected to more than triple, from 7.5 million to 26.7 million.

The U.S. is projected to become a majority-minority nation for the first time in 2043. While the non-Hispanic white population will remain the largest single group, no group will make up a majority.

Other highlights:

  • The older population will continue to be predominately non-Hispanic white, while younger ages are increasingly minority.
  • The nation’s total population will cross the 400 million mark in 2051, reaching 420.3 million in 2060.
  • In 2056, for the first time, the older population, age 65 and over, is projected to outnumber the young, age under 18.
  • The working-age population (18 to 64) will decline from 62.7 percent to 56.9 percent of the nation’s total.


A Detroit Data History Lesson with Kurt Metzger

by Kurt Metzger, Director

As we enter into 2013, Data Driven Detroit’s new affiliation with the Michigan Nonprofit Association has inspired me to take a step back and reflect on my history and how Data Driven Detroit was born. The history of the organization and my own are inexorably intertwined! In 1975, I accepted a fulltime job offer with the Census Bureau in Detroit. Prior to this move, I had attended graduate school in Cincinnati, where I supplemented my income as a psychology teaching and research assistant, with part time work for the Census Bureau – conducting surveys in the area of crime, housing and agriculture.  Somewhere in the middle of conducting research for my dissertation, I realized that teaching and publishing was not the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

During my first 5 years at the Census, I served as a Geographic Specialist, working with local planning agencies in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia to update their maps for the 1980 Census. After the Census, I moved to the Information Services Program, becoming an Information Services Specialist.  Here I found that my love of numbers and my newly discovered ability to present those numbers in a meaningful way could be my calling.  We didn’t have laptops, CDs or DVDs, or the internet in those days.  We got excited when new Data arrived on Microfiche!

One of my jobs was to present workshops on finding and using census data.  While I could always depend on librarians to be receptive, it was at an Urban League gathering in Columbus, Ohio where it all came together for me.  The enthusiasm generated by participants as they found data in those books about their community and decided how to tell their own story (not waiting for the national office to tell that story) was contagious. I knew that I had found my calling!

I left the Census Bureau in 1990 and headed to Wayne State to join a program called MIMIC – the Michigan Metropolitan Information Center. Wayne State unsuccessfully tried to get me to finish that Ph.D., but I became MIMIC’s director after 3 years instead.  MIMIC was part of a program initiated by the Census Bureau – the State Data Center Program – that developed statewide networks of organizations dedicated to making census data available.  WSU received the mainframe computer tapes and we were able to provide data to the public that previously was only available through private research companies.  MIMIC‘s goal was to be the center of a coordinated data system for metro Detroit.  The politics of Detroit never allowed that but we pushed forward with the new technologies that were coming to the forefront over the 15 years I was there – from CDs to DVDs, GIS and the internet.

It was while at MIMIC that other data collaboration efforts began in Detroit and MIMIC was always willing to participate.  There was the Southeast Michigan Information Center at United Way and the Detroit Data Partnership (DDP) at City Connect Detroit.  Neither built the internal capacity – knowledgeable staff and infrastructure – to make it work, but added to the critical mass of interest in building a Detroit data center.

I moved to United Way in 2005 and spent 3 years as Research Director.  In 2008, the philanthropic community of Detroit became heavily engaged in the city and recognized the need for data to help direct investment and to measure outcomes.  The DDP project was floundering and, after a period of researching programs that worked, City Connect was asked to develop a concept paper for what was then called the Detroit-Area Community Information System (D-ACIS) and I was contacted and invited to become its director and creator.  This was an opportunity of a lifetime for me.  I came to City Connect in November of 2008 and made my first hires at the beginning of 2009.

My mantra all along was that we would be an independent, objective clearinghouse that would provide information to the community at large.  There would be no formal affiliations so that there could be no turf issues.  We would work with those organizations that believed in the vision we had around collaboration and sharing.

In 2010, D-ACIS became Data Driven Detroit.  The original design of a 4 person staff has expanded greatly over the years and I continue to have the time of my life.  While we haven’t bridged the full network of potential partners – a network that supports a common data vision and agenda for Detroit and the region – the partnerships continue to grow.

Join us in 2013.  It is going to be a great year for Detroit!