September 9, 2011 By Sarah Rich
Six years after Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans, the city has released a data set on post-Katrina damage assessments. The data set is one of many that were released Saturday, Aug. 20, in a soft launch of data.nola.gov, a website to promote government transparency.
Denice Ross, the city’s application director, said the post-Katrina damage assessment data set reflects a specific administrative process that classified properties by percent damage — damage caused by the storm. After the hurricane, the percent damage was then used by the Safety and Permits Office when it was issuing building permits.
Ross said the data set doesn’t have much relevance now since the storm happened years ago, and the data set isn’t currently in use for any business purpose, but it was included on the new site because the data set was the subject of a public records request.
After Hurricane Katrina, neighborhood associations helped inventory the property conditions within their boundaries and would use the information from their property conditions inventory to deploy case management to help people rebuild their homes or to bring in volunteer rebuilding groups to help property owners who did not have the resources to rebuild.
“In order for that property condition inventory to be actionable, it had to be accurate and the parcel layer is how you get accuracy in field surveying like that,” she said.
Ross said a network of groups were using a “bootleg” copy of parcel information that had emerged after the hurricane, however the city at the time did not release official parcel data, which could have helped with New Orleans’ recovery from the hurricane.
The data sets are now available through the new data.nola.gov website as a result of New Orleans’ Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu’s push to create more government transparency.
According to the mayor’s office, the new website also lists data sets from the city’s Office of Information Technology and Innovation on geographical data of New Orleans’ streets, curb lines, council district boundaries and building permits.
Data sets on blighted properties, departmental performance metrics, and locations of libraries, police stations, schools and city-owned property are slated to be released on the site in the future. According to the mayor’s office, new data sets are being added weekly to the site.
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