Why is data important to racial equity work?  

Researching, analyzing, and publishing disaggregated data is essential to racial equity transformation in government. Data includes both numbers (statistics, research findings, etc.) as well as community narratives (what people most impacted by a problem tell you about their experience). When analyzed together, these numbers and narratives can help us understand “who is not reaching our universal goals and why?” Using that information, we can build plans and strategies and measure our progress to both closing gaps AND reaching goals for all Chicagoans. 

OERJ partners closely with allies such as the Chicago Digital Team and the Chief Technology Officer on much of this work. We are strong supporters of open, transparent data and encourage all city departments to publish as much as they can to the Chicago Data Portal (while of course respecting privacy and personal information).   

Equity Dashboard: City of Chicago's Workforce Diversity

OERJ believes the City of Chicago’s government should reflect the diversity of the overall city’s population. In pursuit of this goal, OERJ developed the Employee Equity Dashboard, a comprehensive public dashboard to demonstrate our commitment to transparency and accountability to equitable results. This dashboard helps us understand who works for the City of Chicago and whether the demographics reflect the Chicago population. It highlights the city’s workforce diversity data by department and will serve as a tool to support our long-term goals to increase and cultivate diversity, equity and inclusion in the City’s departments.  

This dashboard was made possible thanks to key partnerships with Bloomberg Associates, Bloomberg LP, and the Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS). 


Chicago Equity Dashboard

When looking at overall city population statistics, it is clear that not all Chicagoans are reaching our desired outcomes. The Chicago Equity Dashboard identifies some of the top areas we care most about as a city (such as life expectancy, voter turnout, poverty rate, etc.) and shows the current gap by community area, race, gender, and age.  

This critical tool helps us advance the We Will Chicago citywide plan adopted by the Chicago Plan Commission in February 2023. The dashboard provides data on key indicators of equity in Chicago across the eight pillars of the plan. It will show change over time to help monitor overall progress in closing key disparities by neighborhood. 

The dashboard was made possible through partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health and Metopio. 

Explore more data resources

There are many amazing resources out there that share data on racial equity gaps. The below resources are ones we use often and that we recommend our city department colleagues also use.  

Chicago Health Atlas

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and PHAME Center at UIC created the Chicago Health Atlas for Chicagoans to review, explore, and compare health-related data over time across communities. This data portal has features that allow you to download hyper-local data, compare the relationship with any two indicators using the scatterplot function, and view trends across neighborhoods.     


Why OERJ Recommends this 

This is a comprehensive dashboard of numerous data indicators related to the health and wellbeing of Chicagoans. Whether you’re new to data or run regressions in your sleep, this dashboard has something for you! 


The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is our region’s comprehensive planning organization.  CMAP has many data-driven projects that provide partners with vetted and trustworthy information. These projects are often the result of years of research and collaboration with federal, state, and local sources. 


Why OERJ Recommends this 

CMAP is a great resource for a lot of different types of information about Chicago. You can find profiles, historical data, and more.  

COVID-19 Dashboard

Launched in 2020 early in the pandemic, the COVID dashboard was built upon an automated, open data infrastructure that joined data from labs across the local healthcare ecosystem. Created together by Chicago's Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, Office of Equity and Racial Justice, West Side United, Department of Public Health, Slalom, Chicago's Chief Data Officer, and Department of Assets, Information and Services.   



Why OERJ Recommends this 

While it is no longer as useful given the expansion of at-home testing, this dashboard was an early example of a collaborative data approach with community groups and government during an emergency. It gave actionable data to community groups.  

CTA Public Performance Metrics

This dashboard tracks overall performance metrics for the Chicago Transit Authority. Since CTA disaggregates this data by bus and train type, you can easily examine differences in service and success by area of the city served and can compare over time. 


Why OERJ Recommends this 

While the CTA is considered a “sister agency” to the city (meaning it has its own board and budget), CTA is essential for Chicago’s future. This transparency will hopefully help improve the reliability and use of public transit in Chicago. 

Cumulative Impact Assessment

As a part of the City’s first Cumulative Impact Assessment, the Chicago Department of Public Health, Department of Environment, and environmental justice leaders and advocates reviewed public comments on permitting and zoning decisions, regulations, and city plans to assess the effects of industrial development on community areas. This report provides a summary of public comments.  


Why OERJ Recommends this 

Environmental justice advocates have fought against the disproportionate impacts of air pollution in their communities for decades. This document highlights recent efforts and recommendations provided through public engagement processes. 


Also, the Cumulative Impact summaries are great materials to review to understand how your department or organization might review past public comments in a way that informs future decision-making.  

Empowered Chicago 

It’s often said that in order to see where you’re going, you need to understand where you’ve been. In addition to showcasing the experiences of Chicagoans today, Empowered also features historical content that helps us understand how the discriminatory housing practices of the 1930s influence modern day energy challenges that disproportionately affect communities of color. Understanding who is most impacted provides a starting point for where to target resources. 


Why OERJ Recommends this 

This is a great example of how narratives can be integrated into policy and data work.  

Hate Crimes Dashboard

This dashboard is collected by the Chicago Police Department and reflects hate crimes reported over time in Chicago. 


Why OERJ Recommends this 

It is important to transparently share what we are seeing in terms of hate crimes over time. As you can see, reports of this type of crime have significantly increased since 2021. 

Illinois Interactive School Report Card 

This tool lets you compare information about different school districts (and schools within districts) across Illinois. You can also examine facts like teacher demographics, discipline statistics, and can build your own report card of data. 


Why OERJ Recommends this 

This dashboard has key information about Chicago Public Schools and allows you to compare it to other districts across the state. You can also look up individual schools. 

Internet Connectivity 

This dashboard provides data around access to the internet in Chicago disaggregated by race, community area, etc.  


Why OERJ Recommends this 

Increasingly the internet is essential for 21st century life, whether it’s a telehealth appointment, applying for a City Sticker, or paying a fine. Unfortunately, digital redlining means many areas of Chicago do not have reliable high-speed internet. This tool helps us understand where those areas are so we can better conduct outreach and advocacy. 

National Equity Atlas

National Equity Atlas indicators track how communities are doing on key measures of inclusive prosperity. We define an equitable community as one where all residents — regardless of their race, nativity, gender, or zip code — are fully able to participate in the community’s economic vitality, contribute to its readiness for the future, and connect to its assets and resources. Our indicators track change over time, are comparable across geographies, and are disaggregated by race and other demographics as much as possible. 


Why OERJ Recommends this 

The National Equity Atlas is a national leader in communicating equity gaps among cities, states and the nation. This is a great tool that helps you compare Chicago to other cities and states across the country. 

Quality of Life Planning 

Since the late 1990s, LISC has supported the development of Quality-of-Life Plans (QLPs) by community leaders and residents in Chicago neighborhoods. These QLPs identify priorities ranging from better education, housing, broader job choices, safer streets, new economic opportunities, and stronger personal finances by community area. To date, 27 QLPs have been created.  


Why OERJ Recommends this 

Neighborhood Quality of Life Plans provide insights into the top priorities of our neighborhoods. Before engaging community leaders and residents, this is a great tool to review to understand what work and priorities have already been identified.  

Utility Disconnections 

This dashboard provides a color visualization of disconnections across the country. You can identify patterns, download data, and explore state policies that protect customers. 



Why OERJ Recommends this 

Climate Change affects us all but has racially inequitable impacts. Understanding differences among state utility disconnections is a key metric related to understanding the impact. 

Violence Reduction Dashboard 

This dashboard, launched in 2021, supports the first-ever Chicago open data project detailing the victims of violent crimes in support of the City's community safety strategy. Created together by the Office of the Mayor, University of Chicago Crime Lab, and the Department of Assets, Information and Services. 



Why OERJ Recommends this 

Public safety is a key policy priority for all Chicagoans. The Mayor's Office Violence Reduction Dashboard shares real-time data on violence trends in Chicago and its inequitable impact across the city, as well as critical information about the City’s community-centered and trauma-informed response. This public dashboard is a critical component of the City's efforts to increase government transparency with the primary goal of supporting community-based violence reduction partners in their efforts.