Jacky Sawyer

Director of Data Services, Breaking Ground

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Since finishing up the bootcamp, I really dove headfirst into all the data that Breaking Ground has. I feel like, during the bootcamp, I got a better vision of how we wanted to use the information we collect and also thinking about other information we hope to collect. So really, my biggest accomplishment has been creating a very detailed inventory of all the data that we have and using. All that information is to develop a strategy about how we want to store our information, how we want information to flow from department to department, with the ultimate goal of developing a more robust data analytics strategy.

The main strategy that we’re working on implementing right now is building our ETL process to feed into a data warehouse for ultimate data organization and storage. Whether you use a data warehouse model or some other kind of large data storage, I think it’s good to have a sense of getting all your information consolidated in one place so you can ask questions of your data.

I think I left the bootcamp with so many questions in my mind and so many ideas of how I was going to be using this information only to come back to work and feel limited by some of the very common barriers to accessing information. Some of those include not being able to link similar information from one program database to another, so if you’re getting data from a third party or from a city data set, how do you create those connections between the information?

I think one unique challenge that Breaking Ground faces is that we’re capturing information about people. You know, people don’t fit cleanly into numbers and I think we would really be doing a disservice if we kind of reduced people to statistics about them. It’s kind of a unique challenge, but I see it more as an opportunity and I think it just comes with a healthy respect for how you use that information for good.

Data Science Dojo has been really kind of echoed these best practices and how to think about information and how to really use it to do the work that you know you can do. I’ve been able to bring some of the excitement back to my team and I think a little bigger about the possibilities of using our data.

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