Deciding Where to Live with Open Data


Tammi Shepherd, Chief, Application Services at Oakland County Information Technology, shares how she used the Access Oakland Open Data Portal to help narrow down choices for buying a home. Check out her story and see how you can make Oakland County’s Open Data Portal work for you.

Tammi Shepherd
Chief, Application Services at Oakland County Information Technology:

This year my family began kicking around the idea of buying our next house. We love our current house, but like many families with young children, our living room is looking more like a daycare playroom every day, and the toys are only getting bigger. Finding a house is a challenge unto itself, but we also had to decide which community and neighborhood we want to live in.

I needed a way to measure and rank what was most important to us. Things like, living near other families with kids my daughter’s age, or being close to parks and other amenities. I can now find those answers using maps and data from our new Access Oakland Open Data Portal.

I started by mapping some houses we were considering using the simple spreadsheet I had already made to keep track of “important” details, like whether I liked the kitchen finishes, or if the house had a great yard. Next came school district boundaries and day cares, which helped me to easily see which district each house was in, and what day cares would be nearby. I then added in the Oakland County trails and parks, so I could see where we might go hiking – a favorite hobby.


Finally, I mashed up a map from the ESRI Open Data portal which describes different neighborhood characteristics called the ESRI TapestryTM Segmentation. I learned things like whether there is an even mix of single and married people, or is it 80% married couples. Does the neighborhood have a high rate of people who are still working, or are most now retired? Do people spend their spare time taking fitness classes and traveling abroad, or doing yoga and taking backpacking trips? These are just a few things I could compare and contrast with our own lifestyle to help us narrow down our choices.

At the end of the day, the community around you is so much more important than the house you live in. Putting together these maps has helped me understand the character of each community and neighborhood I’m considering, and helped me narrow down my search. Can data tell you if you will love your new neighborhood? No, but every bit of information helps, and Oakland County wants you to have as much information as possible to help you make big decisions like this for your family. Please enjoy exploring and informing your decisions with our new Access Oakland Open Data Portal.

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