Kinder Institute Expands Data Library for Greater Houston

Kinder Urban Data Platform

What do the Third Ward Comprehensive Survey, Sunnyside Strong Survey and Texas Flood Registry have in common? These community-oriented projects all deposited their sensitive data in the Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Urban Data Platform (UDP), a data repository housed on Rice University’s secure servers.

Funded by Houston Endowment and led by Katherine Ensor, professor of statistics at Rice University, the UDP has added more than 220 datasets to its online catalog since it launched in February 2017. Some of the datasets are exclusive to the UDP. Others are obtained from public sources and formatted and processed to ease research. Researchers are also invited to contribute their own data, which is credited to them.

Kinder Urban Data Platform

While some datasets can be downloaded for public use, others are restricted and stored in the UDP’s secure computing environment. Software and tools allow analysis and reporting to be done inside the secure environment, ensuring that sensitive data remains confidential.

The UDP organizes everything from census data to city government data, all with a focus on Greater Houston. It includes information on the city’s demographics, housing, health, education, transportation and other urban issues.

Researchers can find a variety of data on the UDP, from air samples following the ITC fire in Deer Park to the change in impervious land cover (surfaces that don’t absorb rainfall) percentages in Houston over a span of three decades.

The Texas Flood Registry, which seeks to understand the short- and long-term housing and health effects of major storms in Texas, also stores and computes its data on the UDP. The World Trade Center Health Registry, which inspired the Texas Flood Registry, helped to recommend long-term federal funding for critical activities such as the treatment of WTC-exposed populations.

The Texas Flood Registry has been working in launching a COVID-19 registry. Research on health registries cannot happen without a secure computing infrastructure like the one offered by the UDP.

If you wish to explore data in the UDP dataset catalog, provide data about the Greater Houston area and its communities, or would like to do academic research with data stored in the UDP, please visit the UDP website at

— Hien Le
Assistant Data Manager
Urban Data Platform
Kinder Institute for Urban Research


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