Editorial: DND must fix its map

The City’s Department of Neighborhood Development must stop using its incorrect neighborhood map to analyze data.

One might think it goes without saying that a City department should not knowingly use deliberately incorrect information. Alas, it does not. We had to say it over and over until the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which first created the ludicrously false map, finally agreed to stop.

Unfortunately, the deliberately incorrect map infected most City agencies. Fortunately, most have remedied that. DND needs to do the same. Using a crazy map to list vacant buildings probably doesn’t matter much, but DND issues reports on other topics—such as foreclosures—that could impact which neighborhoods get more programs or aid. Especially when the map pretends several neighborhoods don’t exist at all.

Maps matter and facts matter.

The DND’s only defense is one the BRA first tried on us years ago: that consistency somehow trumps accuracy. If they don’t keep using wrong info, they won’t be able to compare data with previously wrong reports. That laughable illogic really means, “We don’t want to devote resources to it.”

Well, the BRA changed its mind and redid far more complicated reports on census data to match reality. A programmer and someone from the City’s GIS department could probably fix DND’s reports in an afternoon. DND may well not have the staff resources, but someone in City government does—and considering this is ultimately the BRA’s mess, we suggest it lends a big hand to clean it up.

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