Part of the Discovering Data Science Blog Series
In the introduction to the Discovering Data Science blog series we explained what data science entails and how it can benefit communities across the nation. In this second post, we highlight three easy-to-understand examples that demonstrate the power of data science for communities to address resource allocation, forecasting, and decision-making challenges.
Allocating resources to the individuals that need them most presents a formidable challenge for communities of all sizes, but data can help. For example, in Chicago, a flu shot availability app leverages information on where citizens can get free or low-cost flu shots to inform and connect residents to the closest location with available inventory. Although the city already kept a record of locations with no-or-low cost-shots in their open data portal, this open-source app enabled this key information to reach residents. The code from the app, developed during a Chicago government-sponsored hackathon, has been adopted by other cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
Forecasting economic recovery in the aftermath of a traumatic event or forecasting economic development can be a highly useful application of data for communities constantly striving toward growth. The City of Miami, FL faced multiple challenges in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials had to make fast decisions to address unemployment, COVID cases, and economic vulnerability. Although multiple sources of information and data existed, these were not converged in one location. Moreover, the data was static and historical. So, US Ignite created a prototype economic development dashboard designed to help Miami leaders easily access the relevant data and use machine learning and artificial intelligence to obtain unemployment rate forecasts. These types of forecasts can help not only city officials and nonprofit organizations prepare resources and lines of assistance but also businesses and residents on the ground level through an easy-to-use dashboard.
All cities and communities face weather-related problems and in the worst cases, disasters. Making decisions that aim to keep the public safe during weather events carries varied financial and safety implications for a community. While weather forecasts can help, additional data analysis and mapping can provide an actionable visual for decision-makers. One specific tool designed for this purpose is The Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation (CMRA). Using information from across the federal government, the CMRA allows communities (and individuals) to see real-time statistics and maps that document where people, property, and infrastructure may be exposed to hazards. Utilizing tools like CMRA, communities can easily leverage data science to make better decisions.
The three examples described above represent only a small sample of ways that data science can improve communities and emphasize the undeniable power of data. Community leaders interested in taking advantage of data can greatly benefit from exploring low-cost and no-cost data science solutions. This is why the next section of the Discovering Data Science blog series offers concrete methods for communities to leverage data science via partnerships with academia and nonprofit organizations (like US Ignite). Make sure to follow us on social media (Twitter/LinkedIn) to keep up with the Discovering Data Science blog series.