Austin Tech Alliance was invited to participate in the City of Austin’s Fundamentals of Data Analysis Workshop focused on mobility in Austin. The folks attending represented a wide variety of people, including City of Austin employees from Public Works and Austin Transportation Department, University of Texas PhD students, and Austin residents.  

The goal of the workshop was to collaborate with others to produce a capstone project working to solve mobility problems in Austin. Groups researched wide-ranging topics, including the location of sidewalk gaps in relation to food deserts and people with diabetes and other medical conditions, the possibility of a common data repository for more open data usage, more effective transportation options for low-income patients with HIV, and dockless mobility’s effect on public transportation.  

This workshop allowed us to not only brainstorm solutions to real problems citizens of Austin face, but to also learn from experts who work with data on a daily basis.  

Here are some key insights from the data analysis workshop:

  1. Data analysis about not only about data science, but encompasses much more. Teamwork, communication, and visualization are also all key because they allow other people to bring a different perspective, which results in more meaningful solutions.
  2. To become a data driven company, you must just start. Data driven companies “work” because the employees buy into a data driven mindset; they identify problems and brainstorm solutions by analyzing data. However, when upper management mandates the use of data, employees will not buy into using data to inform solutions.mo
  3. Finding out how to solve your research questions can be as valuable as actually solving the question.  Sometimes, necessary data is impossible to access. However, if you figure out how to solve your research question, the possibility of the data being analyzed is much more likely.
  4. People want more open data access to allow cross-collaboration to solve more interdepartmental problems. By allowing more access to data (especially in a consistent format), more people can work to solve problems to make our lives more efficient.

To learn more about the Open Data team at the City of Austin and be notified of future workshops and meetings, visit their website.