BATON ROUGE, LA — August 2, 2018 — In February, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome formed the Blight Strike Team, a collaboration between community partners and City-Parish individuals with the shared goal of addressing and preventing issues before they threaten neighborhood quality. Mayor Broome has also revived the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority (RDA), whose mission involves returning blighted properties to productive use.
In advancing these efforts, Mayor Broome’s Blight Strike Team and the RDA have launched a specialized data tool, BuildingBlocks by Tolemi, which links records and information across departments and offices and then automates the analysis of the data to pinpoint where property distress is occurring. The BuildingBlocks system will also enable the city to track critical details, such as the history of each property, ownership, and reason behind its current state. These capabilities will save the city significant costs and avoid the other negative impacts of blight.
Prior to utilizing Tolemi’s solution, City-Parish staff had to aggregate and standardize records held across nineteen different agencies. Each source of data was different, requiring significant time and resources to compare key vital signs and make determinations about the condition and status of each. Department staff estimate time savings of 15 to 20 hours a week in some cases.
“This tool allows us to operate more efficiently as we track, map, and eliminate blight across East Baton Rouge Parish,” said Mayor Broome. “Along with time and cost savings, BuldingBlocks allows us to be smarter in how we collectively address blight moving forward.”
The BuildingBlocks software has already mapped the 9,750 blight service calls in the past two years. It has also calculated that blighted properties account for just 3% of the overall building stock but over 10% of all police incidents. By taking an innovative, data-driven approach to tackling blight, Mayor Broome aims to curb crime and revitalize Baton Rouge’s neighborhoods.
Christopher Tyson, RDA President & CEO, elaborated, “Having a tool like BuildingBlocks is essential for the RDA to be able to combat blight and stabilize neighborhoods on the level of other cities. This partnership greatly advances our transformation into a smart-tech city.”
Tolemi has a track-record working with mid-sized cities to empower them with data tools that support housing and neighborhood priorities. CEO Andrew Kieve explained, “Governments like Baton Rouge are out front and leading by example in terms of applying data and analysis to solve tough problems – it’s not just for New York and Los Angeles anymore. We’re especially proud that our solutions can help teams achieve immediate results in local governments that don’t have the time or capacity to implement cumbersome, long-term IT projects.”