Small Talk: Alicia Rouault, co-founder of LocalData

Alicia Rouault is a co-founder of LocalData, at (LocalData)

By Mark Hicks

An innovative effort to gather information is gaining national attention, and its success started in Detroit.

The creators of LocalData, a new digital toolkit designed to help community and government groups modernize the collection of local data, have won $300,000 from the Knight Foundation. It was one of six creative ventures nationwide selected as winners in the Knight News Challenge: Data. The contest honored projects that strive to make it easier for people to access and use information.

LocalData began as a project with the city of Detroit through the nonprofit Code for America. Three of its fellows launched a Web app so residents could take smartphones or tablets to survey areas and find info on blight. A graduate urban planning class at Wayne State University has used the tool to study commercial properties and create a citywide study.

Co-founder Alicia Rouault recently filled in The News about the efforts.

What made the team choose Detroit for the starting point?

Our team has worked with the Mayor's Office in the city of Detroit as well as a number of community-based organizations in conjunction with our work at Code for America. … We've partnered with the city to help build digital solutions to address various challenges in Detroit. Another project we recently launched in Detroit was DDOT's new service called "Text My Bus," which allows riders to find out real-time DDOT arrival information by texting their location to 50464.


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit