States and Localities Should Implement Equity Compliance Measures

istock.com/Prasit Rodphan

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

COMMENTARY | As Americans increasingly demand equitable action from government officials, the ability to model, measure and map equity in real time paves the way for a new model of governing to address injustices.

Few republics in the history of human civilization have ever come so close and fallen so far from the ideal of “liberty and justice for all” as the United States. Our 400-year legacy of slavery remains unresolved and its adverse impact on the lives of people of color continues to hold back the entire country from becoming the “more perfect union” alluded to in the Constitution. In truth, the tension between freedom and equality has always been the central conflict of our journey as a nation.

In the past year, the American public’s demand that our federal, state and local governments act more equitably in all that we trust them to do has increased exponentially. Whether in service delivery, neighborhood capital investments, mobility, health, public safety or public education, “We the People” now expect more.

Government can meet those expectations by viewing its actions and decisions through the lens of equity.

Just as all states and cities have accepted the need for an “audit compliance,” so too should they embrace the idea of an “equity compliance,” which measures how government is acting to redress historic and current injustices based on income or race.

And to those who might say, “we can’t measure that here”—actually, we can. Not only can we measure equity, but we can map it, and most importantly, we can model the policy choices necessary to promote it. And, for the first time in the history of democratic republics, we can do all of this in real time in ways that all can see.

Thanks to the commonplace twin technologies of geographic information systems and the internet, we have the ability to see and understand where inequities are felt most acutely, as well as what can be done most effectively and efficiently to address them. This is not a matter of guesswork; it is a matter of applying math to a map.

For example, we now have the ability to model, measure and map exactly which neighborhoods have access to parks and green space within a short walk from their homes. The same is true of access to public transportation. Access to nutritional food. Access to broadband. Access to jobs or workforce training programs. Access to clean drinking water. Access to bridges that don’t collapse into rivers.

These modeling and mapping tools can be used to create heat maps of food deserts and can measure where grant dollars are going. We can also create color-coded maps—in the style of red light to green light—that show relative and unequal levels of things like public safety, broadband access, vaccine penetration or prevalence of lead poisoning. We can map contract awards to minority- and women-owned businesses. We can measure educational outcomes with maps of school districts where all children have learned to read by the third grade and school districts where they have not. These technological advances make possible a new way of governing and a better way of promoting the public good that government offers, for all to see.

In the past, creating such illustrations of current problems were the domain of academic researchers. And it took months, and often years. Today, with open data and geographic information systems, maps become as real time as your Uber route. Dashboards give you real time feedback on whether policies are working or not, and on whether the scale of interventions are sufficient to achieving the actual outcome.  

Of course, there is much we still have to learn about the best ways to overcome the legacies of slavery and the current-day realities of social inequity and social injustice. But thanks to commonplace technologies, we can no longer claim we don’t know or can’t tell. Because we can. And with this shared and clearer understanding, a self-governing people should ensure that every level of government is advancing equity in every way it can.

Equity compliance is, simply put, seeing the public life we all share through the lens of equity. It is the ability to answer the questions at the heart of our American experiment—do we know where the injustice is, and are we doing something about it? These are the essential questions that every level of government must be able to answer.

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, is a senior advisor for Smart Governance with Grant Thornton LLP and the author of “Smarter Government: How to Govern for Results in the Information Age.” He is a member of the Route Fifty Advisory Board.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Orlando Protects Citizens During Heavy Rain Events by Optimizing Water Data Intelligence
Orlando, FL, USA
Small city of Baldwin, GA with <5K residents reduces info calls to City Hall by 50%
Baldwin, GA, USA
Green Infrastructure acts as a bridge for Indigenous reconciliation in Vancouver, BC
W 63rd Ave & Yukon St, Vancouver, BC V5X 2J2, Canada

NEXT STORY: Survey: 62% of Americans Favor $15 Federal Minimum Wage

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.