The Opportunity Project (TOP), an initiative of the Census Open Innovation Labs at the U.S. Census Bureau, brings together experts and communities to collaborate on digital products that make a difference.
In the Fall of 2023, TOP will be working on four projects for Puerto Rico:
- Improved Data Access for Local Policymakers (Department of Commerce Office of the Undersecretary for Economic Affairs)
- Improving Access to Capital in Indigenous Communities through Data (Economic Development Administration)
- Tracking Federal Funding Impact in Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico Office of Management and Budget, Department of Commerce, PolicyLink)
- Reducing the Literacy Gap in Puerto Rico Households (Todos a Leer Coalition – Flamboyan Foundation, Titin Foundation, Colibri Foundation)
What does TOP do?
TOP’s website reports that more than 1,700 people, 33 federal agencies, and hundreds of organizations have joined together to create some 175 new open data tools such as apps, websites, mapping tools, data visualizations, and games. Focusing on digital tools allows TOP to bring innovative ideas to fruition fast in sessions they call sprints.
“These 12-week sprints rapidly bring solutions to market that would have otherwise taken months or years to create,”said Lorena Molina-Irizarry, senior advisor for Puerto Rico Strategy and Implementation at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Two of the Summer 2023 sprints focused on Puerto Rico:
- Transforming Local Addressing Systems in Puerto Rico (U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
- Enhancing Children’s Resilience to Adversity in Puerto Rico (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Instituto del Desarrollo de la Juventud).
Each sprint lasts 12 weeks and involves people from many different backgrounds, along with the agencies named in the lists above. A statement of the problem is provided and all participants work together to develop tools and programs to address the problems identified.
A vision for an outcome is the starting point. Here’s an example from a 2022 sprint:
Through the creation and distribution of child- and youth-friendly tools and resources specifically designed for the unique culture, language, and resources in Puerto Rico, more children and youth in Puerto Rico could have access to new skills and resources to strengthen their responses to adversity.
This initiative resulted in the Puerto Rico Child Vulnerability assessment tool. This interactive online tool provides data about Puerto Rico’s children in a clear visual format that makes it easier to understand the plight of children in Puerto Rico following the recent string of natural disasters.