City of Savannah

Savannah Blight, Civic Data Science for Equitable Development

The City of Savannah is exploring applications of emerging data analytics and machine learning techniques to leverage existing city data to guide decisions on the best strategy to deal with vacant and blighted properties in the community. Savannah estimates that every abandoned, blighted property in this historic city bleeds approximately $1,300 of public funds annually. Despite its reputation for beautifully restored historic homes, there are approximately 4,286 vacant dwellings, likely blighted and abandoned in the Savannah metropolitan area, costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually. These funds are largely unrecoverable costs incurred for addressing overgrown grass, litter, illegal dumping, securing open structures and demolishing properties, and lost property tax revenue.

Through this project Savannah plans to leverage data analysis to build new transparent decision tools to streamline the process of accurately identifying the best course of action for blighted properties in the community.

Dr. Clio Andris, Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech School of City & Regional Planning, and Dr. Omar Isaac Asensio, Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech School of Public Policy are partnered with Savannah on the project and will conduct data analysis using data furnished by the City of Savannah. Additionally, they will help identify new data that can be collected, including data on housing performance and energy usage and social capital data to help bolster the city’s databases and capabilities. This project will also leverage existing capabilities including open source code and algorithms developed by Dr. Asensio as part of the GA Smart Cities program in Albany, GA for housing performance and analysis of blighted property interventions.

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