At Zillow, there are a couple of things that get a lot of us predictably excited: product innovation and transparency through data. So it was great news when the White House asked us to take part in the Opportunity Project, an open data project focusing on economic mobility for Americans.
As part of President Obama’s commitment to innovation, the goal of the Opportunity Project is to open up comprehensive sets of federal and local data from several sources, and make that data available to everyone in order to help improve access to opportunity for all Americans.
To support this launch, the administration asked some select nonprofit and private sector organizations, including Zillow, to build out digital tools that provide examples and applications of how this data can be used to help communities thrive. The participants were tasked with helping “families, local leaders, advocates and others navigate information about access to jobs, housing, transportation, schools, neighborhood amenities and other critical resources.” Anyone familiar with Zillow’s history knows that we LOVE crunching data in order to inform housing conversations!
After a lot of brainstorming and talking with the Opportunity Project leaders, as well as the other participating organizations, we decided to build a tool that identifies areas of a city that both have high access to opportunity (such as amenities, schools and healthcare) and that also have a high potential for affordable housing development.
This tool is intended to help local officials, urban planners and affordable-housing developers identify investments that will help residents of their city thrive. For this initial launch, we found that the data provided by the city of Baltimore — combined with Zillow data, U.S. Census data and other data sets from the federal government — was just what we needed.
And so on March 7, a few representatives of the Zillow Opportunity Project team went to the White House to present “Invest in the Future” — our tool for exploring the opportunity and development potential of Baltimore’s neighborhoods. Our implementation was well-received, and it was so cool and inspiring to see all the different applications created by the tech and non-profit participants.
We are so excited to see this rich data get used to help communities and expand access to the resources and services that families, individuals and neighborhoods need to thrive. Zillow was honored to be included in this important White House project!