The Environmental Simulation Center (ESC) received a three-year grant from the Ford Foundation to develop the Human Development Overlay District (HD-ODTM). This initiative will harness emerging information technologies to connect the often fragmented social service and physical planning processes in neighborhoods undergoing rapid change due to catalytic development projects. The goal of the HD-ODTM is to develop new tools and methods that enable human capital, social service, economic development and public health organizations to provide coordinated assistance to residents and businesses so that they can understand and embrace the physical changes occurring in their communities as opportunities for upward mobility.
The HD-ODTM is a comprehensive technological and methodological development effort. A key part of this effort is the establishment of a Community Change Center (CCC) in each of the four pilot communities (Chinatown, Boston, MA; Hollywood, CA; St. Paul, MN; Astoria, OR). The CCCs offer real-world testing grounds for innovative tools and techniques.
The HD-ODTM will take advantage of and further recent technological developments that have unleashed unprecedented capabilities to:
- Connect people (e.g. planners and social service professionals
- Integrate information (e.g. integrated households plan for the vulnerable population
- Track Change (e.g. individual and community report cards)
- Visualize complex scenarios and frame choices (e.g. community visions workshops)
- Working with leading advisers in the fields of human capital and information technology, the HD-ODTM is positioned at the intersection of community outreach, democratic participation efforts, social service delivery and the emerging "web 2.0" user-generated content paradigm.