What is Omaha Neighborhood Scan?
Omaha Neighborhood Scan (ONS) uses technology to assist neighborhood residents in monitoring and documenting local conditions.
Using automated forms displayed on Pocket PCs, residents compile information in areas important to neighborhoods and the City of Omaha. Target issues include code violations; housing conditions; infrastructure and environmental conditions; and park maintenance needs.
The ONS vision is an Omaha that has stronger urban neighborhoods where residents are actively involved and partner with the City of Omaha in identifying, documenting and addressing community development needs.
The mission of Omaha Neighborhood Scan is to serve the information and planning needs of neighborhoods and the City of Omaha by stimulating the use of innovative methods, promoting the use of emerging mobile technologies, and providing the infrastructure, support and training for these activities.
ONS is a partnership between the City of Omaha and the University of Nebraska at Omaha's School of Public Administration. Funding support is provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City of Omaha and the School of Public Administration.
How Does Omaha Neighborhood Scan Work?
The concept is simple. Pocket PCs (PPCs) are made available to neighborhood leaders. After training, residents conduct “windshield” or “walking surveys.” Using customized automated forms displayed on the PPCs and digital cameras, residents compile information in areas important to both neighborhoods and City of Omaha departments with key neighborhood responsibilities.
Information is synchronized with either a local database or an Internet-accessible database which is also available to City of Omaha staff, with selected summary information available to the public. Summary information and reports are developed by neighborhood organization members and made available to residents of participating neighborhoods. In addition, summary reports and emerging trend information can be reviewed and discussed by city and neighborhood residents in special meetings. Initially, Omaha Neighborhood Scan's focus will primarily be on code enforcement issues overseen by the City of Omaha's Planning Department. As the network of cooperating neighborhoods expands and gains experience, it is expected that additional issues will be examined through the ONS. These will involve additional City of Omaha departments with responsibilities for code enforcement and quality of life issues, including Parks, Police and Public Works.
What Will Omaha Neighborhood Scan Accomplish?
Through this innovative technology training project, neighborhood associations and residents will be trained to identify code violations and other neighborhood conditions warranting follow-up because they affect or have the potential to affect the safety, health, or quality of life in the area. Neighborhood associations and members, in coordination with area resource agencies, will work with code violators to remedy situations. It is also expected that neighborhood residents will educate others about the role of city codes in neighborhood improvement. All work will be coordinated with City of Omaha departments to develop solutions and to monitor responses and outcomes. An Internet-accessible database will play a central role in coordination and follow-up.
Building Blocks for Success
In addition to being grounded in the framework articulated in Omaha Connected for Civic Engagement, the PPC project incorporates several important building blocks for success.
First, the project focuses on priority problems facing Omaha's neighborhoods. Neighborhood surveys conducted by the Department of Planning and UNO (Center for Public Affairs Research and School of Public Administration) indicate that code violations, public safety, and infrastructure concerns top the list for most residents.
Second, the PPC project will make innovative use of technology to simplify and speed up data collection and sharing, provide documentation of problem violations, and to increase communication and understanding among all parties involved.
Third, the pilot project will provide sound technology training to participants to ensure objective reporting and action. Finally, key organizations, including the City of Omaha, Neighborhood Center for Greater Omaha, and the UNO School of Public Administration/College of Public Affairs will be involved in the process.
Expected Omaha Neighborhood Scan Outcomes
The near-term outcomes of Omaha Neighborhood Scan include stronger partnerships between the City of Omaha and the area's community-based organizations and more relevant information for City of Omaha departments and neighborhoods. Additional near-term outcomes include more timely response and resolution of urban neighborhood problems. Intermediate outcomes, beyond the two-year period of the project, include healthier neighborhoods and more effective and responsive service delivery by the City of Omaha. Long-term outcomes include increased levels of civic engagement.
For more information, please read our brochure
A cooperative service of the School of Public Administration, University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Mayor's Office, City of Omaha. Funding provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Grant # B-03-SP-NE-0452.
Updated 5/25/2011 by Melanie Kiper