What would you do to solve poverty in Philadelphia?

What would you do to solve poverty in Philadelphia? Axis Philly wants your ideas, so get ready to send them in.

Before you answer, consider this: With a poverty rate of over 28 percent, Philadelphia has the highest poverty percentage of any large American city. It has 40,000 vacant properties (as of 2010). And 120,000 School District students receive free or reduced price lunch.

The problem is a big one, so send big ideas, and let’s get the discussion started.

What The Number means

After years of debate, hours and hours of public testimony, and a slew of studies, reports, and recommendations, Philadelphia’s painful and controversial debate over changing its property tax system today came down to The Number — $96.5 billion.

The Number is how much city assessors say all of the city’s taxable property is worth. The Number also is what city officials use to determine the tax rate they need to charge property owners in order to raise the money the city needs. Continue reading

City to name OpenDataPhilly as official city data portal

When the Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network assumed responsibility for OpenDataPhilly last summer, we did so because we wanted to help it evolve and grow as the best and most useful place to find public information about Philadelphia. Our intention was not to take “ownership” of this important project; rather it was to operate it as a public resource and to continue the collaborative work done by all the public and private groups that built it.
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Isaiah Thompson joining PPIIN as reporter

Isaiah Thompson is ending his run at City Paper with today’s publication of a major investigation he did in partnership with PPIIN’s Casey Thomas – the result of which is a powerful expose of how the Philadelphia District Attorney has seized millions in cash and other assets from criminal defendants, whether or not they have been proven guilty. Their infographic appears here and Isaiah’s story here.
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Map of the week: Report election incidents with Yo! Philly Votes

Want to help keep Philly’s election day honest? Use Yo! Philly Votes to report anything that seems wrong — voter intimidation, long lines, machine problems and more. Use whatever works best for you — text message, mobile app, social media or online form. If you want to keep track, here’s a map that will show where problems have been reported. And remember, also use The Committee of Seventy’s hotline for reporting election incidents: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Continue reading

Map of the week: 311 requests filed under ‘Other’

We took a look at the types of requests citizens have been filing with the city’s recently launched 311 mobile app to get a better idea of how the app is being used to report problems.

The first step in filing a request is choosing a category under which the issue should be filed. These categories range from property requests like Vacant Lot Clean-up or Maintenance Residential to infrastructure repair like Street Light Outage to Pothole Repair. The category with the most requests is “Other.”

As of Oct. 6, 316 complaints have been filed under “Other” by our count. The next closest categories were Graffiti Removal (141), Illegal Dumping (91), and Maintenance Residential (78).

We combed through the “Other” requests, put them into some categories we developed, and plotted them on a map. As you look through the requests, you’ll see some that could fit under one of the prescribed categories. But requests to remove dead animals, questions about parking, and complaints about traffic conditions don’t quite have a home besides “Other.”


311 ‘Other’ Requests Clear All Select All
  • Street/Sidewalk/Signage Repair (102)
  • Trash/Odor/Weeds (34)
  • Noise (24)
  • Street Tree (23)
  • Property Complaint (19)
  • Parking (18)
  • Sewer/Water (18)
  • Abandoned Bicycle/Car (17)
  • Animal/Pest (16)
  • Drugs/Crime (12)
  • Business Complaint (14)
  • Traffic Issues (11)
  • Government Services Question (8)

Read more about the 311 app here:

Use the comments below to tell us what you think of the 311 app and suggest ways to examine the data further

Correction: The dataset date (Oct. 2) and ‘Other’ request (336) count were references to an older dataset. They have been corrected.

Map of the week: Where charters run the Philadelphia neighborhood schools

NewsWorks and the Public School Notebook teamed up during Azavea’s Summer of Maps to examine the “transformed educational landscape” created by the School District of Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools turnaround initiative, which has outsourced management of 17 struggling public schools over the past three years. They noted:

In several of Philadelphia’s lowest-income communities in North Central, West and South Philadelphia, Renaissance charters are now the default neighborhood school option – at least for some grade levels. In one large, contiguous swath of the city stretching from Girard Avenue in Lower North Philadelphia to Cheltenham Avenue in the Lower Northeast, 11 former District schools are now under outside management.

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Carla Robinson joining PPIIN as editorial director

More than 10 years ago, the Philadelphia Daily News hired Carla Anderson to develop a new column under the name Urban Warrior. Its goal: to try to solve problems raised by readers. American Journalism Review took note in a November 2000 article:

In a recent campaign, the Urban Warrior took off after the city to rid poor neighborhoods of thousands of abandoned cars. “What I did was spend months and months harping on the abandoned cars,” says Anderson…. “People wind up feeling helpless and powerless when they call the city, and they do nothing.”

Last spring, the paper ran a picture of an abandoned car every day. In May, Mayor John Street announced a plan to get 40,000 cars off the street. “It’s so rewarding,” says Anderson. “I got thank-you notes. I got tons of phone calls. And the thanks are so heartfelt.”

Anderson thinks this kind of reporting engages readers in a way most papers don’t. “We invite reader response,” she says. “I get calls all the time. We are kind of a segue between a traditional news format and online. This paper is very interactive.”

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