California seeks bridge for "investment divide"
- By Brian Robinson
- Oct 31, 2001
The Advanced Policy Institute (API), an arm of the University of California,
Los Angeles, School of Public Policy and Social Research, has received a
grant from an industry/government consortium to develop a statewide "electronic
community" platform aimed at increasing access for poor communities to financial
and investment sources.
Neighborhood Knowledge California (NKCA) will use Next Generation Internet
technology to deliver these services, an attempt to overcome the "investment
divide," and will develop along with efforts to bridge the better-known
As they move more to the Web to deliver services, so the theory goes,
financial institutions will find it economical to provide financing to previously
disenfranchised communities that are also increasing their use of computers
and the Web.
The grant was awarded by CommerceNet, an industry and government consortium
focused on e-commerce. The value of the grant, described as being "in the
six-figures," was not disclosed.
The main component of the NKCA is a statewide property data system that
will help investigators see what the patterns of investment and disinvestment
are throughout California.
"We'll be able to integrate data sets across the state so that we can
compare neighborhoods and other areas," said Nick Rattray, an API project
manager. "Then we can use the information we get from those comparisons
to bring attention at the policy level to the investment divide, as well
as use it for such things as grant applications."
NKCA will also include tools that community groups and local and state
governments can use to regularly update Web site information so that the
property database is kept current. Other extensions will include a project
directory for community networking to enable groups to build their own project
Web sites and eventually to allow online video training to help user groups
get the most out of NKCA's functionality.
The initial NKCA site will launch in the first or second quarter of
2002, said Rattray. The CommerceNet grant is only for the first year's funding
of NKCA, but Rattray expects it will take three years to completely build
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.