Data Chats are small, community conversations about data designed to draw out residents’ perspectives and interpretations. They center the knowledge, community understanding, and experiences of people who live in a neighborhood as much as quantitative data. This guide provides practical advice and sample materials to support groups interested in bringing information to back to the people represented in the data. Data You Can Use, a member of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, developed the Data Chats model with their community partners. Through Data Chats, researchers and residents come away with a more accurate understanding of a topic that can seed new solutions, as well as build deeper relationships for longer-term partnerships.
From years of experience in cities across the country, NNIP believes that if people have accessible information relevant to their local priorities, they will be better positioned to envision responses, advocate for resources, and participate in solutions to benefit their communities. This is particularly important for communities of color and people with low incomes who have been traditionally excluded from decisionmaking and harmed by others’ use of data about them.