National Public Radio (NPR) recently highlighted the role professional surveyors have in mapping Detroit's 380,000 parcels of land stretched across 139 square miles.
Last fall, White House officials created a Blight Task Force in Detroit to determine just what property is salvageable among the estimated 80,000 abandoned buildings.
That information is now pouring into a long room, referred to as "Mission Control", with dozens of people poised over laptops — a White House Situation Room-style mapping area with computerized images of all of the buildings in the city, and outlines of what should be done with them. A map of Detroit covers one table. It's replicated on the laptop screens and overlaid by a computer grid of the city. Blue dots represent surveyors out in the field, and they're all over the city right now. Detroit officials spent decades trying to tear down such homes, but each demolition costs between $5,000 and $10,000.
The mapping project's manager, Sean Jackson, says the new database will help them better use the scarce funding by compiling information that the city and county departments' outdated computers could never integrate.
Detroit's mayor Mike Duggan needs the information from the mapping database to improve Detroit beyond its thriving downtown and midtown areas.