Beacon of Hope’s newest tool for neighborhood surveying is underway and already bringing results. Neighborhood groups are now able to utilize an iphone application Beacon has implemented to create easier, more accurate property condition surveys.
The application has made parcel surveys much easier and more accurate. In the past, a neighborhood’s designated Data Manager would spend hours uploading the results from paper surveys, then a staff member would have to spend another 40 hours inputting the collected data into Beacon’s GIS system. This process left room for errors, as did inaccuracies in the City’s data—which the paper maps relied on heavily.
The Geospatial Intelligence Agency hosted a conference in November of 2010 in New Orleans. Beacon’s Neighborhood Development Department attended the conference with neighborhood surveying needs in mind. After discussing various ideas with Geospatial experts and vendors, Beacon returned with many ideas. In the coming months, we determined that using a smart phone application would be the most accessible and affordable way to get the technology into residents’ hands. In office, Beacon set up a server to support the application running on ArcServer 10. Beacon was able to purchase ArcServer thanks to a generation donation from The United States Intelligence Foundation.
By the later part of 2011 Beacon was ready to take on neighborhood surveys using the new technique. Around that time, the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED) approached Beacon interested in using our model to conduct a resident led survey. When they learned of the new iPhone app, they were eager to test drive the new app. The survey of the 9thWard was a huge success.
Gentilly Beacons who have been completing resident-led surveys since 2008 are now busy implementing the new iPhone application in their neighborhoods. Beacon staff have been attending neighborhood meetings to lead trainings on the new approach and residents are hitting the pavement, putting the new app to use to improve conditions in their communities!