Post #dcdatadive…….the sky is the limit!
Last week I wrote a blog post before the #dcdatadive held this past Friday to Sunday (March 2-4). It has now been three days since staff and I last saw the amazing team of volunteers. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm about the results of the weekend. As it all sinks in, we will continue to share what we think it will mean for our D.C. KIDS COUNT work but also, maybe more importantly, what it means for children and youth in our city.
What I know for certain today is that we now have a team of incredibly genius, socially-conscious data scientists who want to make a difference in the lives of children in D.C. This of course is more than we could have ever expected.
Going into the event, we laid out our lofty goal: we wanted to come away with ways to make the data come alive for the most powerful policymaker to the most modest community member, and everyone in between. We wanted to ensure the data would become a catalyst for a common agenda toward community-based solutions to promoting health and success for every child in D.C. As lofty as this goal was, I believe we met it!
I can't quite express my appreciation and awe of both the experience and the results. We had a team of 25+ dedicated social scientists helping us push through data sets and challenging us to think about the data we gave them. Over the course of the weekend, we had one team of data scientists gathering, assessing and cleaning additional data.
A second group was the geospacial and GIS team working, which worked on aggregating the data to five different levels, including census tracts, neighborhoods clusters, wards, and high school and elementary school boundaries. Their purpose was to ensure that the data could fit into our mapping goals. The biggest challenge: Did we want our analysis at the census tract or neighborhood level?
Lastly, the data visualization team took everything and created an incredible map highlighting multi-layered neighborhood-level data.
I can hardly contain myself! What is amazing is that this project was created with volunteers working essentially for 1 ½ days non-stop for free. Our team even worked until 5:30 Sunday morning, and they were back again for presentations at 10 am. That’s commitment!
When I couldn’t contain my emotions as the groups presented their work for us, Andy, an expert GIS guru, commented, “It’s just a map!” But it’s not just a map. This map is the beginning of a process for making sure our vision – that every child born in our city is thriving, happy and healthy – comes true.
A special thanks to our partners that hosted the DC Datadive, Data without Borders, New America Foundation, and Independent Sector’s 2011 American Express NGEN Fellows. We look forward to the continued partnership! The results from the Datadive are more than we EVER dreamed of.
To the amazing team of volunteers who so generously gave their time and expertise and took up our challenge: a sincere thanks doesn’t quite seem like enough to express my gratitude. Being the leader of a small non-profit charged with the incredible task of tracking child well-being to ignite social change is daunting. Like many organizations, nonprofit and for-profit, we wish we could afford to hire a team of outstanding data experts. Luckily, all of you walked into our lives!
We hope this relationship is going to change lives. Change takes time, but this is the beginning of a conversation based on evidence and attention to the complex factors affecting children’s lives.
Jake Porway, one of the founders of Data Without Borders, closed the weekend with a statement that was so profound and summarized so beautifully the broader hope of this weekend: “By educating nonprofits and bridging the socially conscious scientist to non-profits, we can better realize the most advanced technology to change the world.”
As another new data friend expressed, “Power comes with smart data!”
Data=Social Math=Social Justice!