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On Being a Civic Data Scientist

I am very pleased to share that I landed a job as a data scientist at the City of Boston, specifically on the Citywide Analytics Team. I am excited in this new role, especially with regards with all the new things I will learn here at the city. Sorry radio silence, but I was doing that whole grueling data scientist interview process.

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I’m going first rep Insight Data Science. I went through the Health Data program (actually with every intention to do Health Data Science), and I learned so many invaluable skills during that time. I also got to interact with a group of very passionate, intelligent, budding data scientists. I would never have landed this particular job without their help. The Insight community is wonderful, and I suggest any Ph.D. thinking about wanting to get out of academia to consider it.

In the DS world, civic oriented data science seems to be vastly overshadowed by the big players in the tech and health data world. However, if you do a quick search, many cities have open data portals now, and are arguably some of the primary drivers of the open data movement. Just to name a few:

Big cities are doing cool things with data, which include anything from improving transportation and reducing traffic accidents, identifying factors regarding social inequities across city services (e.g., health care, education), fine tuning EMS response times, optimizing street parking, reducing homelessness, and many more things. Cities have a huge amount of data at their fingertips, and are doing lots of interesting work to improve the quality of life for citizens and improving city services.

My job at the city is a little bit of a hybrid of a data scientist and data manager. Half of my time is spent talking to stake holders and mentoring junior data scientists (more on the stake holder work later). I really enjoyed teaching and mentoring during grad school and my post-doc, so the management side of things is one of the things I really like. When my calendar isn’t full of meetings, you can find me in front of my computer, with a terminal on one screen, and RStudio, Jupyter, Spyder, or whatever random IDE on my other screen. It’s a really nice mix of both worlds…

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