Presented By O'Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
September 26–27, 2016: Training
September 27–29, 2016: Tutorials & Conference
New York, NY

A collaboration in civic tech: Improving traffic safety nationwide

Erin Akred (DataKind), Michael Dowd (DataKind)
2:30pm–3:00pm Tuesday, 09/27/2016
Location: 1 E 12/ 1 E 13
Average rating: ****.
(4.67, 3 ratings)

Many cities nationwide have adopted Vision Zero, a global movement that aims to reduce traffic fatalities and severe injuries to zero. Ultimately the work of Vision Zero aims to quantify which of several interventions and policy changes, in isolation or combination, are most effective to protect the population at large. One variable that is extremely important to include in such an analysis is the total volumes of road users (vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians), often called exposure, which allows us to understand the true rate of crashes. Since this data is not readily available, we must first model and estimate it.

Erin Akred and Michael Dowd explore a partnership between Microsoft, a team of DataKind data scientists, government officials, and researchers that has been working to leverage newly available datasets to inform cities’ efforts nationwide to reduce traffic-related deaths and severe injuries to zero.

Photo of Erin Akred

Erin Akred


Erin Akred is a former Presidential Innovation Fellow and data and analytics specialist focusing on improving the human experience through sustainability, education, and healthy lifestyles. Her work over the past 15 years—spanning industries and academia across the public and private sectors and resulting in multiple patents and awards—illustrates the art of the possible in a world of abundant data.

Photo of Michael Dowd

Michael Dowd


Michael Dowd is a data scientist at DataKind working on a long-term project using data science to prevent traffic fatalities in cities nationwide. A recent graduate of MIT with master’s degrees in city planning and transportation, Michael is a transportation planner, modeler, coder, GIS expert, and civic data enthusiast. He hails from Seattle, WA, but has lived most of his adult life in NYC. While attending MIT, he worked on modeling the potential impacts of climate change and inundation on the Boston metro region. He loves writing code, civic data, studying transportation, and all things geospatial.