With data, Philadelphia tries to plug the education-poverty gap

The City of Philadelphia wants to use data analytics to unify education and training programs to help impoverished residents join the workforce.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

The reality is that many city residents -- particularly those in poverty -- don't have access to the education they need to join the workforce in a meaningful way. This could be because of obvious things like cost, or less tangible factors like bureaucratic red tape and employer awareness.

The City of Philadelphia wants its most impoverished residents to see education as a way out, but today's system is so complicated to navigate that most people would give up in frustration. Mayor Michael Nutter announced this morning via Twitter a $1 million venture called "Digital On-Ramps" that's intended to use digital technology to make the training-employment path a bit clearer.

The idea is to better coordinate the forms, exams and other elements of the myriad education and training programs in the city so that the path to employment is less circuitous, redundant and infuriating. It's hard enough to tackle upward mobility head-on; the "system," so to speak, shouldn't be part of the challenge. And if it can all be accessible through a smartphone, well, all the better.

Specifics on the program are thin, but IBM wrote in a blog post that it made recommendations to city officials on topics such as using technology to measure success and track participation, create clear roadmaps for participants' actions and standardizing systems -- so that the data can be shared between the hundreds of organizations that work to address the problem, but not together.

Here's a look in a video:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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