Rice Urban Data Platform now available to public for data access

Rice University’s Kinder Institute Urban Data Platform (UDP), created to support a deeper understanding of the people, government and built environment in the Greater Houston area, is now accessible to researchers not affiliated with Rice.

Urban Data Platform artLaunched in 2017, the UDP is a computing environment and secure data repository of research-ready data for the Houston metropolitan area. The platform supports data-driven, cross-disciplinary research and community investigations for the growth, progress and welfare of the Houston metropolitan area and its communities. As a repository for regional data, the UDP will house results of Hurricane Harvey-related research.

The UDP was initially available only to Rice researchers completing appropriate training for use of secure data. Recognizing that much information is publicly — but not easily — available, the Kinder Institute researchers have given other researchers direct access via the UDP to curated research-ready data in the public domain. Another feature of the new system is that researchers can contribute data to the UDP. Data published on the platform will receive a citable digital object identifier, or DOI, giving credit to the contributor and will be made available to the larger community under the Open Data license.

Engaging Houston and empowering its success is one of the goals of Rice’s Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade.

“The platform has really great potential,” said Kathy Ensor, director of the UDP and the Noah G. Harding Professor of Statistics. “The platform makes it easy for researchers to access multiple research-ready data sources to address important questions. And now, with the increased access to researchers outside of Rice University, there will be even more opportunities for research to improve life in Houston.”

Currently, the platform includes nearly 50,000 variables of data ranging from information about air quality in Houston to affordable housing in the city. UDP data are geocoded and cleaned before entering the system. To enhance use of the UDP, the team of faculty, students and staff supports statistical training on methods related to urban analytics.

Ensor hopes that as access increases, researchers and organizations in Houston will be willing to share their work via the UDP.

The platform is accessible online at www.kinderudp.org. Support was provided in part by Houston Endowment.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.