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Denver Opportunity Index focuses on those left behind by city's growth

Public safety ranks areas based on opportunity
Posted at 11:22 AM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-24 21:08:19-04

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DENVER — As the Mile High City grows, there's a focus on identifying areas that have been left behind when it comes to Denver's newfound prosperity. Denver created something called the Opportunity Index, a way to use data in order to identify areas of the city where quality of life issues and public safety can be improved.

Denver's Public Safety Director, Troy Riggs, walked around Capitol Hill as he explained how his department used police data and information from census tracts to come up with the index. Through that data, his department was able to look at 142 census tracts to rank areas from greatest to least opportunity. 

The index is broken down to three pillars of focus: Financial security, health and people left behind. Data from those three categories are then used to determine the well-being of a specific area within the city.

"We need to know where these issues are located; this data is going to let us know where the issues are in our city, what type of situations people are living in and how we can help them as a department of safety," Riggs said.

The goal is to use that data in order work with nonprofits and faith-based organizations to help fill in the gaps. For example, in an area where there's increased food insecurity, a church could partner with the city to open up a food bank.

"What I see this as really lifting up the whole community," Tom Luehrs, St. Francis Center Executive Director.