Earlier this month I represented Seattle at the biannual convening of the Civic Analytics Network (“CAN”). The network, hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center, is a national network of data analytics practitioners from cities and counties that work together in order to further the use of data in government services.
At the convening we shared our perspectives on the priorities, successes and challenges in our own organizations. We took inspiration from how Louisville are spearheading an open-source Waze preprocessing project, Allegheny County are integrating data analytics into their Human Services Department and New Orleans continue to bring data to the challenge of police recruitment and retention. We sought guidance from those who had faced similar challenges, both technical and organizational. While cities have different models for the delivery of data analytics, each representative operates in a cross-departmental role, providing data science services across the breadth of their government’s work. Insights from the group on the best way to prioritize and filter data science projects for this diverse group of potential clients I have already used in the City to streamline our approach in IP.
In addition to supporting the work of each individual government, the network provides a space for the members to pursue common goals. In the past the group has issued a joint letter on improving open data, and subgroups are developing joint approaches to data in important policy areas as well as guidance on cross-cutting (and fascinating) issues, such as data standards. As part of the data ethics subgroup (led by the inamicable Joy Bonaguro, CDO of the City and County of San Francisco), I worked on draft guidance on ethics in data algorithms, that the network will release publicly later this year. Once finalized, this tool will be an invaluable resource for our work in Seattle, but also data analytics teams across the country. Watch this space!
The network is an invaluable resource for the data analytics team and the City of Seattle. I’ll continue to share examples of learning from other network members. If you want to learn more about any of these – or make a connection to a peer in a network city – then please reach out to me.