Community Data Fundamentals
Policy and practice in urban disciplines (housing, planning, real estate, transportation, demographics, etc.) are heavily informed by data. Experts in these fields use data to make claims about how cities are or how they should be. Factoids like “the Downtown Eastside is the poorest postal code in Canada” or “the world is now over 50% urbanized” have become a part of how people think about neighborhoods and cities. However, the ability to access and analyze urban data is often restricted to experts who may introduce bias into data collections and interpretation. This course attempts to democratize access to urban data by sharing some basic methods for accessing and analyzing urban data.
The main dataset you will explore in this course is the Canadian Census, as that is one of the few comprehensive national datasets everyone can access easily. You will also explore a few other housing-related datasets, and some basic tools like Beyond2020, CensusMapper, Esri ArcGIS, and Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets. The course is not designed to train you in using these tools, but rather to show you some of their functions. By the end of this course, you will know about a variety of techniques for accessing and analyzing urban data.
This course will benefit anyone interested in how data is used in urban policy and practice, but it is particularly relevant for professionals in the fields of housing, planning, real estate, transportation, and other urban disciplines who are interested in a very broad introduction to urban data.
What you will learn
After completing this course, you’ll be able to do the following:
- Discuss the history of data analysis in urban policy and practice
- Explain how urban data analysis is not politically neutral
- Understand what research is possible with the Canadian Census
- Operationalize a general question into a measurable research question
- Understand the steps in basic research design
- Access data tables from the Canadian Census, CMHC, Rental Housing Index, etc.
How you will learn and be evaluated
- Expect instructor-led presentations and class discussions
- Prepare to discuss, debate and formulate your own opinions
- Plan for optional pre-readings
You will be evaluated on:
- 2 brief in-class assignments
Who should take this course?
This introductory course is for both professionals and engaged citizens with an interest in learning about urban data and how it’s used to make decisions.
No textbook is required. We will provide all course materials online.
For online courses, you will need a computer with audio and microphone that is connected to the internet. Canvas is the online system that will be used for the course. For more information and online support, visit Online Learning.
Professional development credits
AIBC CES participants, PIBC members and BCSLA members may self-report for continuing education learning unit consideration.