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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

New Orleans' Rapid, Crowdsourced, Property Condition Data

Inspired by Intel’s Code for Good commitment to the White House Climate Data Initiative
Presented by Esri and the City of New Orleans

Download the report See what happened on Storify



Imagine a clear, detailed, recent, photographic view of each building, home and City or state-owned space in New Orleans. What does that look like? What could we do with that information? How would it affect our “resiliency” focused efforts? How could it help other cities and states that experience natural or man-made disasters?

In a post-Katrina, (and post-Sandy, post-9/11, post-Fukushima) world, we’ve seen time and again that data is extremely powerful. What you do with that data is even more influential. Think about it – if you know the condition of properties before a disaster, you can then survey the same area post-disaster and analyze how to best distribute aid, resources, infrastructure, etc. In effect, what you do with the data is a game-changer.

As months turned into years after the levee failure, government agencies, universities, nonprofits, and neighborhood associations struggled to survey the city parcel-by-parcel. Their collection methods varied, the data didn’t integrate with each other or municipal data sets, and most of the imagery and data were not shared with the public. Some neighborhoods were over-surveyed, and some were completely left out, adding information disparity to the long list of disparities between New Orleans neighborhoods. Although it’s been nearly 10 years since Katrina, New Orleans still needs a way to successfully collect and use this type of information… so that we can effectively tackle big challenges (like climate change) and focus on strengthening all of our neighborhoods by investing in programs and policies that lead to affordable and safe communities for everyone. 

Techarrette for the National Day of Civic Hacking

What is a Techarrette?

As defined by The Techarrette Group, "Techarrettes are creative, intensive, collaborative, iterative design efforts that uses a series of carefully tailored inputs and questions to examine a single challenge from a variety of perspectives and scales.  The goal of a Techarrette is to conduct highly rich planning and/ or generate new ideas."

Purpose of the Techarrette

This techarrette will address software design considerations for a generalizable, low-cost, scalable web-based tool for crowdsourcing the scoring of property conditions from a centrally collected photographic dataset.

Read about use cases for the data...

How is this property condition scoring method different?

  • Image collection is separated from the scoring of property conditions and attributes, so data represent a “snapshot in time” rather than a period of months or years. This allows boots-on-the-ground post-disaster to be limited to 2 or less staff for 2 weeks for a city the size of New Orleans (driving the camera-on-car on every street).
  • Scoring of properties is randomized across the city – reducing the likelihood of bias where stakeholders in one neighborhood might score properties on a different threshold than stakeholders in a different neighborhood. Also, this means that as results come in, they will become increasingly statistically significant as the sample size increases (until all properties are scored) as compared to the predominant neighborhood-by-neighborhood methodologies.
  • Methodology is cost-effective enough to be repeated frequently, providing baseline data for normal planning and resource allocation, and supporting rapid-rebound and strategic recovery after shocks.
  • Volunteers can be anywhere/anytime and scoring of each property will take less time than sidewalk surveys. Locals might still do the majority of the crowdsourced scoring for baseline data, but in the event of a catastrophic event, e-volunteers from around the world can join in. This reduces the data collection fatigue that locals experienced after Katrina.


5:30 PM, Thursday, May 29 through Noon, Saturday, May 31 2014 (National Day of Civic Hacking)

See what happened...


New Orleans' Rapid, Crowdsourced, Property Condition Tool needs to be built with resiliency in mind, and based on nearly nine years experience with various neighborhood, nonprofit and government efforts to track recovery after Katrina, manage land more strategically/sustainably, and fight blight in an effective and accountable fashion.

Conducting a techarrete early in the design/decision-making process will:

  • Establish a multidisciplinary team that can set and agree on common project goals.
  • Develop early consensus on project design priorities.
  • Generate early expectations or quantifiable metrics for outcomes.
  • Provide early understanding of the potential impact of various design strategies.
  • Initiate an integrated design process to reduce project costs and schedules, and obtain the best data.
  • Identify partners, available grants, and potential collaborations that can provide expertise,
    funding, credibility, and support to the project.


  • White House Climate Data Initiative
  • Facilitators
  • Data Stakeholders
    • City of New Orleans
      • Information Technology & Innovation
      • New Orleans Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness
        • Hazard Mitigation Office
      • Office of Performance & Accountability
    • New Orleans Redevelopment Authority
    • Palantir
  • Expertise in the field
    • New Orleans Neighborhoods Partnership Network
    • University of New Orleans Geography Department
    • Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team
    • Loveland Technologies
    • MSF Global Solutions
  • User Experience & Gamification Experts
    • Hardcrawler Games
    • TurboSquid
    • Code for America
    • Socrata
  • Technology Partners
    • Intel
    • Esri

About the Partners

White House Climate Data Initiative

The Climate Data Initiative builds on two significant Administration commitments: (1) to strengthen America’s resilience to climate change, and (2) to make government-held data more accessible to the public, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others as fuel for innovation and economic growth. A complete fact sheet is available at

Intel®'s Code for Good

The Code for Good program aims to solve social problems through software. It's a collaboration between the Corporate Affairs Group and the Software and Services Group at Intel, led by Josh Bancroft and Renee Wittemyer. Intel's mission this decade is to "create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth". Code for Good aims to put that mission into action. More information is available at Intel Developer Zone.


Esri plans to focus its initial efforts on 12 large and small communities, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Wake County, North Carolina; and Tamarac, Florida, to develop practical methods and approaches based on GIS technology that address the most pressing needs of the communities. Esri will continue its plan by publishing a series of maps and apps developed in conjunction with these communities that will be shared openly. Communities around the world can use the solutions to make progress toward becoming more resilient. More on Esri's commitment to the White House Climate Data Initiative available at


Socrata is a Seattle-based cloud software company, focused exclusively on democratizing access to government data. We help public sector organizations improve transparency, citizen service and fact-based decision-making by efficiently delivering data to those who need it, in a user-friendly experience on web, mobile and machine-to-machine interfaces. Innovators like the Medicare,, EnergyStar, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Oregon, Montgomery County, and Maryland, have all chosen Socrata as the technology platform for their strategic data sharing initiatives.

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Last updated: 8/9/2017 1:20:55 PM

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