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Intro, FAQ and Status


Data for Good, inspired by, is the Canadian voice for data scientists with a conscience. We bring together leading data scientists with high impact social organizations through a comprehensive and collaborative approach that leads to shared insights, greater understanding, and positive action through “data in the service of humanity”.

Data For Good Ottawa (D4GO) is a community of volunteer data scientists with the talent, commitment, and energy to open doors & inspire a new way of using the skills and tools of corporations & governments, to meet the needs of the social innovation sector. We don’t help sell more gadgets and gizmos – we help make Ottawa a better place.

At any time, we may be running several projects concurrently. We review progress, update each other, and share data science techniques at our monthly meetups. We occasionally have mini-DataThons where we get together and tackle a few key questions related to a project in a collaborative, intense afternoon or evening. Most work, however, happens asynchronously since our members have individual schedules, commitments, and day jobs. . This means that you are free to work in whatever manner you prefer. Find a group of people who share common interests and approaches, or work alone. Use R, python, Tableau, or COBOL – whatever you are comfortable with or want to learn. Develop simple but impactful bar charts, or use the latest statistical techniques to predict and understand. There is room for every skill-set and level, and the opportunity to learn from some very experienced people.

Projects typically last about six months and have several common stages. First is an exploration stage with the organization where we get to know their business and the kinds of questions they’d like answered. Then is a phase of obtaining data, anonymizing it, and cleaning it up to put it in a form suitable for the team to easily use. At this point we usually develop some starter code, to show how a few simple analyses can be done with the data. This part is led by the data ambassador for the project, who is responsible to be the main contact with the organization.

When the cleaned and anonymized data is released to the team, it is heads down. We collectively work to answer the questions posed by the organization. We meet regularly to update each other and make our intermediate results available through a collaborative web site. We hold progress meetings with the organization to demonstrate progress, get answers to questions, and to ensure the work we do is aligned with their highest priorities.

Next we assemble the results and insights into a report that is reviewed with with the team, and then presented to the organization. These reports are where the real impact is because all the analysis in the world is useless if it can not be explained, and translated into impactful knowledge.

We follow up with the organization after they have had time to digest the results to answer any lingering questions, explain details, or clarify findings. With this final follow-up, we declare a project to be completed. We then begin a new project, possibly even with the same organization.

Since we are volunteer based, D4GO is a fantastic opportunity for you to contribute in a way that makes sense to you. We have members of all skill levels. We have data scientists, programmers, DBA’s, and story tellers who want to help make Ottawa a better place. Skill levels range from eager beginners looking for an opportunity to learn and grow their skills, to old-timers who have seen it all and scoff at the statement ‘the data is ready to go.’ This makes D4GO a great place for you to learn new things in a risk free environment. Trying something new at school, if unsuccessful, may result in a lousy grade. Similarly trying something new at work may delay the results, or result in an unsuccessful project. At D4GO, you are free to explore new techniques, or try new things and if they don’t work out as hoped, all you have lost is a little time.

If you want to contribute – there is a place for you regardless of your background. Come to one of our meetups and get involved in one of the projects. Help out where you can, as you can. You can help make Ottawa better!

Intro Presentation

Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Frequently Asked Questions June 4, 2019 10:05 PM Tina G.
Project Summary June 18, 2016 12:57 PM former member
Intro, FAQ and Status June 16, 2019 11:35 PM Tina G.
About Data for Good - Ottawa May 8, 2015 11:01 AM Peter R.

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