Online community data portal aims to highlight what local people are doing to address population decline, climate change, housing, health, poverty, and more.
Knowing Our Community
New Dawn Community Engagement is developing an online community data portal (and interpretive blog) for Cape Breton Island. Its purpose is to raise awareness about local concerns (from population decline and climate change to housing, health, poverty, and more); to highlight what local people are doing to address them; and to encourage others to contribute to the work.
Laura Syms, a Business and Data Services Librarian at CBU, and Jamie Whitters, a GIS/Planning Technologist with CBRM’s Planning Department, have lent their expertise to the project, helping to define local geographies and identify sources of data.
For Laura, the project is an extension of the support she provides to faculty and students at CBU.
“Sometimes data just confirms what we know, but sometimes it opens up a whole new appreciation of an issue,” she says. “In either case, it provides the basic information needed to think carefully about our communities.”
For Jamie, who has long used data to support the work of the CBRM Planning Department, the data portal is a tool for bringing such information to the wider community.
“It’s hard to do anything without good data,” he says. “It’s like flying a plane without a control panel. This project will give people the information they need to participate in public discussions.”