I started my professional career in business consulting as a data analyst. I was responsible for analyzing consumer product data from Fortune 500 companies and grocery stores and recommending improvements to increase sales for dozens of Time Warner magazines and Mars candy brands. Now, practically every industry is obsessed with “Big Data” and its potential to help solve business and social problems. Technology enables us to handle larger and larger data sets, so we can combine information that has never been combined before with less cost. In my real estate business, my clients seek to hedge their risks when buying homes and investment property. Adequate data collection allows them to do so.
A few years ago, I was helping an investor understand the real estate landscape of cities in lower Fairfield County. We started with the Greenwich Town Hall. It took less than 5 minutes for the clerk to provide a CD (compact disk) with a line-item list of all the property in the city of Greenwich with columns that indicated the type of property (residential, commercial or industrial) ownership, square feet, zone, etc. This list even included property developments that were proposed but not yet built.
This was fascinating only by comparison to my experience in Stamford. When I tried to get the same type of list from the Stamford Government Center, it was impossible. After weeks of trying, I received an email with the total square feet of property that was industrial, commercial or residential, with no line-item information. A line-item report with property characteristics was unavailable.
Stamford has made some progress with technology since then, but we still have a very long way to go when it comes to leveraging data. Most of the data exists in silos within each department, precluding any meaningful analysis of the state of our city and how the different areas of the city impact each other.
According to the City of Stamford website, the clerk’s office has lots of data:
“The City and Town Clerk serves as Stamford’s Keeper of the Records for all documents that pertain to the City and its residents. This includes, but is not limited to Land Records (records relating to any kind of land transaction such as deeds) and City Maps, Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, Death certificates, Dog licenses, Trade Name Registrations. More About the Office of the Town & City Clerk in the City Charter.”
It is time for that data to be connected across departments and utilized for better decision-making. This will provide powerful information for the residents, investors, non-profits and business owners that work hard to improve and remain sustainable. Now, that local and state funds are becoming more and more limited information, intelligent data-driven decisions are more important than ever.
In a few weeks, Lyda Ruijter is running for Town Clerk. Whether you are an Independent, Democrat or Republican (and I have been registered as all of the above since I vote on the issues), please take a moment to read about her and what she can do to move our city forward in regard to modern data collection. For the sake of a thriving sustainable city, we should understand the importance of what she seeks to accomplish. Click here: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/local/article/Challenger-candidate-seeks-to-modernize-Stamford-12284669.php
If you have not registered to vote on November 7th 2017, or if you need more information about voting, click here. The offices that are up for election are as follows:
- Town Clerk
- Board of Finance
- Board of Education
- Board of Representatives