Rayid Ghani on Data Science for Social Good

I had a chance to sit down with Rayid Ghani, the Director of the Center for Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago. I have admired Rayid’s work ever since he became the Chief Scientist for the...

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From Jupyter Notebooks to R Markdown

I started using Jupyter Notebooks back when they were called IPython. I even remember having to set up a virtual Linux environment because they were not available on Windows. As much as I have enjoyed their functionality, I recently switched...

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Lessons From My First Kaggle Contest

Kaggle is a forum for interacting with other data scientists and competing to see who can write code that will best predict features of data. It’s a way to test your skills at statistics and machine learning, and to...

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Data Science vs City Rats

Somerville, MA has been fighting a war against rats for months, and now we have the data to show that it’s working: reported sightings have dropped 66% year-to-date; some of that is due to weather patterns and random fluctuation, but...

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How to Optimize Street Repair Spending

Here’s a problem governments are faced with every day: you have a limited amount of resources to maintain aging infrastructure, in this case streets. Do you spend more on crack sealing and preventive maintenance, or full depth reclamation? Which streets...

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Putting the R in Government

When I first started as an analyst in local government, I wasted a lot of time repeating tasks that had been done dozens of times before in Excel. SomerStat, the office where I worked and later became director, is one...

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The Top Urban Planning Articles of 2014

For my job, I read a lot of articles on urban policy and planning. I believe that the best policies are usually borrowed from other cities rather than fabricated from nothing. In that spirit, I even borrowed from other top...

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How To Automate Map Making in R

In my last post, I displayed a series of maps from the 2014 Massachusetts midterm election. In all, I created 17 maps, all with fewer than 20 lines of code. Here’s how…

The basic idea is to use a...

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Maps of the 2014 Massachusetts Elections

Most of the maps I have seen so far color each city or town either red or blue based on the majority outcome. That works fine, for the most part, but I prefer to see the range of voting patterns....

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Experiential Learning

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is to partner with Harvard and other local universities to teach students through project-based experience. The City gets free consulting, which is ordinarily very high caliber; and the students get a...

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Hello World

For my inaugural post I just want to share a photo from TRAX, the light-rail system in Salt Lake City, UT.

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