The City of Detroit’s “Streets for People” campaign from the Department of Public Works (DPW) has identified the top roadways segments for severe injury from vehicular traffic (Figure 11, Page 23). The report notes that, “Detroit does not have a strong culture of traffic safety.” For major US cities, Detroit ranks #2 in roadways deaths and #3 for pedestrian deaths nationally.
There are many different methods to calculate and describe segregation of cities. Detroit is regularly noted as one of the most segregated cities, but what is often left out is the regional context or the fact that the data calculation of segregation requires comparison to regional data. The Othering and Belonging Institute (OBI) has put together both an excellent interactive tool and a useful technical appendix.
The Dissimilarity Index is the most commonly used index, but only displays dissimilarity between two racial groups at a time. The Divergence Index (A) is preferred by OBI because it compares the relative proportions of racial groups at various geographies. Isolation and Exposure Indices (B) help us observe the degree of racial residential segregation experienced by different racial groups, but again can only indicate the exposure of one group to another. The Entropy Score (D) best demonstrates racial and ethnic diversity within a given geography. It is becoming more frequently used to describe segregation, but does not actual measure segregation.
Were you without power for multiple days? A likely cause is DTE’s lack of priority for infrastructure modernization in Detroit neighborhoods. Present efforts have focused on hardening, which has most often been ridiculed as “fighting with the trees.” Hardening could also include replacing poles, but the majority of “hardening” efforts in Detroit have been tree trimming and power line upgrading. After the most recent storm, DTE’s map of “reliability improvements” changed to include much more utility pole inspection and repair. It remains unclear what constitutes “upgrading” or “strengthening.”
The City of Detroit is served by 4.8 kV power, which is an older, less reliable system, with far less capacity than 13.2 kV. The 4.8 kV system, which is more than a decade past its expected use, has 13% the capacity as 13.2 kV. Modernization efforts prepare Detroit for greater capacity that could support improved solar and other clean, renewable energy efforts. DTE has noted its prioritization is focus on population and economic development. Yet, that leaves Detroit’s population dense neighborhoods underserved in favor of “economic development” in Greater Downtown where there are more jobs, more building permits, and more tax incentives.
Read the full brief: Utility Redlining: Inequitable Electric Distribution in the DTE Service Area
It’s always important to assess and re-assess where population is dense based on the most recent Census estimates via the American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS is not the most perfect survey tool, but it is the best data that we have access to on a regular basis. A notable concern with the 2020 Census is the expanding undercount of Black, Latino, and Native American peoples.
Population density really shows the disparities in the revitalizing city where there is a Greater Downtown bubble, a ring of low density around Greater Downtown, and most Detroiters living in the Southwest, Northwest and Far East sides.
This is a beautiful map even if it represents the plans that have doomed most of our country’s major cities to car-centric planning. The map is part of the UM Clark Library map collection. In 1925, “super highways” were simply 204 foot wide major surface roadways. Notably, those super highways were absent from the city’s core and center.
Alternatives to fossil fuel consuming vehicles are much easier to come by these days. The launch of Factory Zero at the old GM Poletown plant is indication enough that electric vehicles (EV) are here to stay. If you wanted you could roadtrip around all the Great Lakes in your EV with the now standard 200 mile range in most models.
However, our infrastructure has a long way to go to make EVs a viable option for everyone. That is low-income and communities of color are extremely underserved by EV charging stations. In Detroit you have to live in the 7.2 square miles of “Greater Downtown” to have any luck. Charging stations are just one part of the equation. The other is our outdated electric grid. In these same areas of Detroit where there are no EV charging stations, the electrical infrastructure is a decade past its life expectancy and has 16% the hosting capacity compared to areas that have been modernized like Greater Downtown. Beyond EV charging, this unreliable infrastructure limits low-income communities from taking advantage of home solar to reduce costs of heating and cooling as well.
And, don’t try to charge your EV in Windsor.
This map created in 2011 as part of the “A People’s Atlas” project by AREA Chicago shows the clear indication of imbalance in early Detroit revitalization efforts. Hand drawn representations of Detroit are always fascinating and this one in particular shows a particular point in time that could reflect many time periods in the distance past or even our current city situation.
These are the official “neighborhood planning clusters” as adopted by the Community Revitalization Strategy (CRS) in 1997. The city’s master planning efforts are still bound to these ten planning clusters even though the city has numerous other methods for identifying and prioritizing geographies.
I found this on Detroit’s ancient GIS webpage using the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine. There’s just something wild to me about the color choices. I wonder what GIS software had these are defaults or how the mapmaker chose this palette of baby blue, pink, and light yellow.
One data oddity that I learned about when working for the city government was that fire hydrants are broken up into their own bounded zones and maintained, at the time (around 2016) not very well, by different Detroit Fire Department (DFD) engine or ladder companies.
When the effort began in earnest to assess the status of every fire hydrant, Detroit was already the busiest fire department in the country. News reports claimed the city was giving an overly low estimate for the number of hydrants not working. In 2015, journalist Steve Neavling surveyed 15% of the city’s 30,000 hydrants and found 279 broken.
Now this city maintains this dashboard to stay up to date on fire hydrant status across the city.
Jackson, an architecture student and lifelong Michigander, (@im_sorry_wtf) has been generating some clear and beautiful maps of election results for primary elections across the state. This is a sampling of the primary races that included Detroit. All data come from the respective county clerk offices.
The most important news coverage, rightfully so, about Detroit primaries has been the loss of Black representation in Congress for the first time in 40 years. This is the exact scenario that community leaders and the Black Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party warned about after the recent redistricting. The most watched primary was for Michigan’s 13th Congressional seat where 8 of the 9 candidates were Black. India-American businessman and State Representative, Shri Thanedar won the primary by a 4% margin.
The “West End” of Detroit sits within Michigan’s 12th Congressional District. Incumbent Rashida Tlaib was running against embattled Detroit City Clerk, Janice Winfrey. Tlaib won her primary handily despite the influx of pro-Israel funding from groups hoping to unseat Tlaib who is Palestinian-American.
The 8th District State Senate primary is notably for its starkness. The near absolute racial divide in voting along Detroit’s northern 8 Mile Road border is a reminder of our segregated region. The Black candidate, Marshall Bullock won a plurality in the Detroit section and precincts in Oakland County while the white candidate, gaining recent political fame, Mallory McMorrow only won a plurality of votes in one precinct of Detroit.
August is Civic Health Month among many other awareness campaigns like National Breastfeeding Month. Over the last decade, there has been increased recognition that voting and civic engagement are connected to population health and health disparities. Low voter turnout has been well researched and shows that people who have lower self-rated health, certain chronic diseases, poor mental health, or who live with disabilities all experience greater barriers to ballot access. Voter turnout is similarly varied by race, income, and education level.
The data nerds and political pundits have all been throwing the numbers back and forth, cutting up districts, cities, and precincts to get to the bottom of how the 2022 primaries shook out. In Detroit, the topic has been the voting patterns of the Congressional 13th where Shri Thanedar took the win. Turnout has always been relatively lower than low in Detroit – and for all the already well researched reasons. Other local politicians even benefit from a lackluster clerk and absence of any meaningful civic outreach that result in low turnout.
Detroit can easily be seen as a sea of low turnout under 10.3% with bright spots that had over 29.9% turnout in Grandmont-Rosedale, Palmer Woods, University District, Indian Village, and Lafayette Park – all areas of high income, high education attainment, and low rates of chronic diseases. Precinct 308 in Grandmont-Rosedale had the highest turnout at 53.3% followed by Precinct 203 in Palmer Woods with 50.8%.
The Detroit City Clerk, Janice Winfrey, lost her own primary against Rashida Tlaib and her office has some different numbers than the Wayne County Clerk. I’m not sure yet how to account for the anomaly.
|Wayne County Clerk||504,401||78,022||15.46%|
The overall turnout doesn’t change that significantly, but the discrepancy of some 200 voters and 300 ballots is quite odd. The map is based on unofficial precinct level data (election day voting and absentee votes) from the Wayne County Clerk.
Corrected map for 2022 election precincts.
The original map posted on 08/05/22 had a number of blank areas labeled “no data,” but the issue was actual an incorrect precinct shapefile. I had used the 2020 precincts and assumed not much had changed in 2022. Since 2020, 52 precincts were merged with nearby precincts. Precincts 17, 28, 37, 48, 54, 57, 67, 76, 87, 96, 99, 104, 106, 108, 109, 110, 113, 114, 117, 141, 142, 149, 152, 154, 163, 170, 179, 181, 187, 196, 206, 235, 237, 270, 322, 388, 391, 412, 451, 454, 455, 456, 459, 465, 467, 469, 476, 478, 487, 492, 494, and 499 were all removed in 2022. Big thanks to Will Ferguson for remapping the precinct changes that, as far as I can tell, were only shared out as an unuseable PDF map (04/05/22 2:10PM). Give the people machine-readable, open data!
I was very wrong, yet this is not an uncommon problem in Detroit where voters often learn of precinct changes the day they go to vote or never. Precinct changes must be approved by the Detroit Election Commission which looks like it meets extremely irregularly (but a planned meeting tomorrow 08/08/22). The 2022 precincts map was made in April 2022 and from the file name it seems it was approved in July 2022. Michigan election law states:
Precinct boundary changes must be approved no later than 210 days prior to the August primary in an even numbered year; however, in the second year following the federal census precinct boundary
changes must be approved no longer than 120 days following the August primary. (MCL 168.661(3))
I can’t interpret if that means the Detroit Election Commission, who last met in August 2021, is severely behind schedule and failed to approved precinct changes properly, or if they have 117 more days to approve the updated precincts. I at least hope they properly mailed updated voter registration cards to everyone.
Now to the topic of “open data,” it appears that the Clerk and Office of Elections doesn’t care to make the data more readily available because they have a pricing menu for various maps and data available. How can our own voting data cost money to access?
The Detroit People Mover was part of the Urban Mass Transportation Authority (UMTA) Downtown People Mover (DPM) program. The program received 35 proposals, and four cities were selected: Cleveland, OH; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; and St. Paul, MN. Detroit had applied, but was able to pursue the DPM with other funding along with two other cities (Miami, FL and Baltimore, MD) bringing the total to 7 DPM approved plans.
Only Detroit and Miami followed through on constructing their DPM system. Miami eventually demolished their DPM. The Detroit effort was started by the Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA), which would later become the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). SEMTA sold ownership of the system to the Detroit Transportation Corporation (DTC) in 1985 and the DPM launched in 1987.
Elevated rail was noted as the most viable option in a 1918 Barclay Parsons Clapp (later Parsons-Brinckerhoff) study and it was again proposed in a 1979 study of rapid transit options for the Detroit region. The rail line was proposed to run underground as a subway from Downtown to Grand Boulevard and then run as elevated rail from Grand Boulevard to McNichols, finally running at street level until I-696. The 1979 study of rapid transit plans included the early analysis for the Downtown People Mover project as well.
A proposed housing development in 1983 near where Orleans Landing was finally built noted the Downtown People Mover project and noted the possibility of expansion eastward to accommodate senior citizen mobility needs while also connecting people to the riverfront. Ideally, this could have been an elevated rail line that eventually connected to Belle Isle, possibly even looping around the island.
The single largest expansion of the Downtown People Mover was in 2007 when David Curry and Marsden Burger proposed the Detroit People Mover 2.0 with key connections to the Medical Center and Henry Ford Hospital. The elevated addition would have run as its own separate line connecting to the DPM loop near Comerica Park. Many similar stops exist along the Qline route, but the convenience of elevated rail could not be made more apparent by the current failures of the Qline curbside routing.
The current DPM technology is outdated, but I can’t help but think of the possibility of add on elevated lines to the North, East, and Southwest that utilize the DPM as a hub like The Loop in Chicago. Maybe the RenCen should be Detroit’s newest transit hub where all the elevated rail lines get routed.
The Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) took a deep dive into the controversial Project Green Light (PGL) camera program run by the Detroit Police Department. The now ubiquitously blinking green lights dot every commercial corridor, the inside spaces of public and multi-family housing, and the inside of some businesses (with no blinking light). Concerns about the technology abound as the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) attempts to monitor all 256 cameras and facial recognition contracts get renewed by City Council.
The PGL program has no evidence that the program has had any meaningful impact on crime although it does often tout unverifiable statistics when working to get more businesses to install the technology. One assumption is that police response times might improve based on PGL locations, but the map included in the report shows there is still an obvious disparity in response time regardless of PGL use or non-use.
WHEN: Tuesday, July 19th @ 7pm
WHERE: Troy Public Library
WHAT: Detroit in 50 Maps
Whether you are a Detroiter, a fan of the Motor City, or a lover of maps, this program has something for you. Join cartographer and anthropologist Alex Hill for a discussion of his bestselling book, Detroit in 50 Maps, as he brings Detroit history, culture, and public policy to life with his fascinating collection of Detroit maps.
RSVP: Event Link
New Deal projects touched nearly every corner of the United States. From 1933 to 1942 hundreds of thousands of projects modernized our country and many are still in use today; roads, schools, theaters, libraries, hospitals, post offices, courthouses, airports, parks, forests, gardens, and artworks were created in a single decade.
The Living New Deal’s purpose is to make that enduring legacy visible. Our team is building a national database of information, documents, photographs, and personal stories about the public works made possible by the New Deal. And it is all just a click away on our national map of New Deal sites. The late California historian and State Librarian, Kevin Starr, likened the Living New Deal to a WPA project from the 1930s in its ambition and scope.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 13th @ 6pm
WHERE: Detroit Public Library (virtual)
WHAT: DPL Author Series
DPL welcomes author and GIS Director at Wayne State University Alex B. Hill as he presents his book Detroit in 50 Maps.
RSVP: Event Link
Colleagues have found this process, the eviction machine, to be a business model used by many nefarious actors in Detroit to generate profit. Nine in ten evictions that took place during the pandemic were at properties that were not up to code. Rental properties in Detroit have long existed in a kind of vacuum where the city was unable to consider or maintain enforcement of health and safety standards. The old axiom that “possession is none-tenths of the law” follows the legal process of eviction where the court expedites “summary proceedings,” prioritizing the landlords claim of ownership.
The Eviction Machine project catalogues data from the 35th District Court’s online Register of Actions system, which are then linked to City Assessor data and Certificate of Compliance data in Detroit’s Open Data Portal.
Use the data tools and learn more: https://www.evictionmachine.org
This map is … something. It’s hard to follow the various dotted lines and arrows – maybe better serves as a metaphor for how confused parents are feeling about the proposed changes.
The Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is planning for widespread renovations, a number of closures and what appear to be consolidations, and a few demolitions. The master plan includes building 5 new schools, but its unclear at what cost as 4/6 of the demolitions are estimated to cost over $1 million each.
“Detroit is at a critical transit period. It must add rapid transit to its city transit agencies. It is best to begin right.” – City Planning Commission (Free Press, Tube system planned to serve 92 per cent of workers, August 18, 1926, page 8)
Well, we missed our critical moment to add rapid transit to the city. Rooting for rapid transit in Detroit is like rooting for the Lions. Voters approved rapid transit plans twice (see also Woodward Ave Subway 1915), but the financing could never be figured out. A story we’ve heard before in this region.
The report generated in 1926 proposed underground passageways, but was not a true subway rather a “tunnelway” system. The plan outlined in the map presents 4 mostly underground 2-way rapid transit lines. A Detroit subway will just have to live in fantasy, after fantasy, after fantasy, after…
The HistoricDetroit.org site by Dan Austin is an internet gem. I was so glad to wander back and find he’s added a map function to search for historic buildings by location. There is a strong focus on the urban core to the historic building locations, but that follows the city’s growth and development. Indian Village on the city’s Eastside is the other dense segment of historic building lore.
Stout, a recognized leader in civil legal aid, was commissioned a $1 million study the economic impact of evictions by the Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Companies. Stout analyzed 30,000 evictions in 2017 from the 36th District Court and found 4% of tenants had representation compared to 83% of landlords. Stout estimates an overall $58.8 million cost saving and economic benefit from implementing the “right to counsel” program for Detroit.
The map include in the report highlights that eviction case filings are uneven across the city and it is well known that many unofficial evictions take place that never get filed with the court.