Regional Data Task Force Results Recommend Creation of Data Lab

January 28, 2016

We look to data to help us find solutions and reveal the truth. However, with so much readily available, how can we be certain that we are using the correct information to inform decision makers, or for that matter make decisions for ourselves?

Nearly a year ago, a group of community and business leaders from various disciplines gathered at MORPC and formed the Regional Data Task Force.  Members were tasked with making recommendations to MORPC leadership and members about the creation of a Regional Data Lab. The Data Lab for Central Ohio will include a public website designed specifically for finding and retrieving data for the region, with coordinated management and engagement through a new committee at MORPC. This committee will break down silos to ease access to trusted information, build efficiencies, and increase opportunities for sharing data.

“Early on, members of the Task Force concluded that collaboration and engagement of the data community was absolutely necessary to identify issues and find solutions,” said Anthony Jones, Gahanna’s Director of Planning and Development and co-chair of the Task Force. “We also knew the site needed to become a branded single point of entry, shared and supported by key stakeholders, with MORPC functioning as the coordinating agency.”

 The Task Force was assigned four central tasks:

  • Task 1: Affirm or deny the demands and benefits of a regional data lab

  • Task 2: Outline a high-level structure and layout for an online data site

  • Task 3: Recommend a governance structure for continued maintenance and operation of the site.

  • Task 4: Recommend a business strategy and financial plan to ensure sustained success of the site

After eight months of researching applications in other communities and exploring operational structures, the Task Force provided its recommended findings.

“We found that there is a great need for a reliable data lab in the region and that the formation of a committee, within MORPC, was essential for future coordination purposes, “Jones said. “In addition, we need to search for funding options to ensure the creation of the Data Lab.”

Currently, members of the Ohio General Assembly are carefully reviewing projects that should be included in the Capital Budget. The Capital Budget provides appropriations for the repair, reconstruction, and construction of capital assets such as state colleges and universities. In addition, funds may also be allocated for community projects of local or regional interest. Therefore, MORPC staff have been meeting with legislators and informing them of the need for creating the Data Lab for and how it will provide reliable information and assist academic researchers, businesses, and local governments in their important day-to-day work.  

The Capital Budget bill is expected to be introduced in March of this year.

To read up on all the findings of the Task Force please visit our website: