Community-driven data for good
The data charrette is a recurring service event in which professionals, students, and community members from a wide range of fields – computer science, data science, math and statistics, business, biology, public health, graphic design, and the social and behavioral sciences, among others – collaborate with local nonprofit service organizations on applied data analysis. Over the course of two days, they take the project through the complete data science cycle: defining goals, obtaining data, wrangling data, exploring and visualizing data, modeling data, and interpreting the results to answer the organization’s questions. At the end of the event, the nonprofit receives a complete analysis, all visualizations and code, and a template for continuing the work so they can continue to improve the services that they provide.
The Data Charrette follows the examples set by the globally-oriented organization, DataKind.org, and the wonderful, student-run A2 Data Dive of the University of Michigan, as well as our own experience with previous iterations of this event.
What makes the Data Charrette unique is that it is hosted by an undergraduate institution – Utah Valley University – with an emphasis on including non-technical students, professionals, and community members. We’ve learned from our experience that the ability to frame questions, coordinate activities, facilitate communication, and make the results interpretable and useful – which can be done by people from any background – are as important as the technical aspects of data manipulation and statistical modeling. What this means is that people with little or no experience in working with data are fully encouraged to come and participate, along with the coders, analysts, and designers.
So far, our events have taken place in Utah, but we would love to expand the charrettes to more locations.
In addition to our periodic events, we’re organizing regular Meetup groups, with the first in Salt Lake City, Utah, to explore service possibilities and provide free data training to potential volunteers and nonprofit members.
If you would like to learn more about the data charrette events or Meetup groups, you can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts and suggestions. We’d love to hear from you and get your feedback on how we can support the data charrette to make it the best event possible!