Building Empathy with Data

I recently taught several classes with managers from the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. These folks are near and dear to my heart. Coming from a social sciences background and having experience as a social worker, I have sympathy for their hard and often thankless work. I also appreciate the unique perspective those in the […]

In Praise of Documentation

Too often we do great analysis but it’s a flash in the pan, a snowflake of inspiration that is almost impossible to recapture. That’s why I’d like to offer a few basic thoughts on documenting analytical work, particularly if you’re using a tool like Microsoft Excel: Save a clean copy of the data. Note the source […]

The Challenge of Innovation in Government

In my experience, innovation in government is something everyone wants but few actually understand. And doing the work of bringing innovation to government is hard. By design, government is meant to be dependable for the basic essential services that make life possible, collecting trash, educating kids, and enforcing the laws. This stability creates a culture […]

My 6 Key Takeaways from the Summit on Data-Smart Government

I just finished a day and a half in the company of some of the most interesting people in government, chief data officers and their performance management peers. The occasion was the first Summit on Data-Smart Government, sponsored by the Civic Analytics Network. While there were many great and interesting discussions, here is a short […]

My 8 Takeaways from the ACS Data Users Conference

As a Census data nerd, I’ve been geeking out with the rest of my tribe during each American Community Survey (ACS) Data Users Conference. Each one has been a fun and interesting experience, with insider experiences about the challenges and opportunities in using Census data. I use this inside information for the benefit of my clients, who […]

10 Takeaways from TICTeC 2017

This was my first time coming to The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference (TICTeC). While I’ve worked around open data and civic technology for several years now in New York City, I only heard about it right before last years conference and didn’t know what to expect. What I experienced was a community that is not […]

Brainstorming: In Defense of Broad Participation

For almost 3 years now, I’ve been developing and facilitating brainstorming sessions for public sector clients to understand data-related problems. In that time, I’ve never seen a person who shouldn’t have been in the room or didn’t have something to contribute, but I’ve always had someone say “We should ask {insert team} about that” or […]