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White House launches neighborhood-building open-data project

The program will empower communities through open-source data access.

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The White House announced on Monday that it is launching an ambitious online program that aims to help families and communities alike by giving them the tools to access a package of federal and local data-sets. The Opportunity Project, as it's been dubbed, will help families and community organizations to "navigate information about critical resources such as access to jobs, housing, transportation, schools, and other neighborhood amenities" the White House release reads.

The face of the program is Opportunity.Census.gov, which will enable people to access the Opportunity Project data-sets. This information currently covers eight American cities -- Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City (MO), New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington DC. It provides details about civic resources and amenities at the neighborhood level -- everything from local home prices to the locations of nearby grocery stores and playgrounds. The data is sourced from public institutions including the Census Bureau, the departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Agriculture.

Primarily, this data archive will power a tool developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The tool will act as a "resource for communities to make more informed, data-driven investments that expand access to opportunity and reduce segregation, fulfilling long-standing obligations under the Fair Housing Act." Additionally, the government is inviting software developers to create new tools as they see fit. More than a dozen of these tools are already available including ones from Redfin, Zillow, GreatSchools, PolicyLink and Streetwyze. An additional 30 non-profits have also signed on to develop more.

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