Text-mining Your City

Business & Industry, Beekman / Sutton North (NY Hilton)
Average rating: ****.
(4.67, 3 ratings)

In recent years, companies in the private sector have increasingly turned to sophisticated data analysis to drive and support their decisions. Governments have similar interests in data to promote effective, proven policy techniques, but face a lack of technical expertise in this domain. At the same time, there are so many talented, curious developers interested in applying their skill sets to civic problems. To this end, Chicago’s Office of the Mayor has assembled a volunteer group of data scientists to explore the experimental analytics projects.

This talk will explore the group’s core project, a Twitter analysis to help the City to better understand residents’ needs and complement the 311 system. We’ll explore the technical challenges of text-mining unstructured data—which is a rare technique even in the private sector—and along the way we’ll demonstrate how our group came to be and how such teams suggest the emergence of a new, technology-driven model of civic engagement.

Photo of Q McCallum

Q McCallum


Q Ethan McCallum is a consultant, writer, and technology enthusiast, though perhaps not in that order. Most recently he was seen working on the upcoming book Bad Data Handbook (O’Reilly).

Photo of Brett Goldstein

Brett Goldstein

University of Chicago

As Chicago’s first Chief Data Officer, Brett Goldstein’s role is to lead the city’s approach to and use of data to help improve the way the government works for its residents. Thus, the responsibilities of the Chief Data Officer are threefold: promoting transparency through open data, constructing a comprehensive strategy for citywide data usage and storage, and facilitating data-driven decision-making through data analytics, including groundbreaking predictive analytics.

Before coming to City Hall as Chief Data Officer, Brett Goldstein founded and directed the Chicago Police Department’s Predictive Analytics Group, which aims to predict when and where crime will happen. Goldstein is a former Commander in the Chicago Police Department. Previously, Goldstein was an early employee with OpenTable. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, his MS in criminal justice at Suffolk University, and his MS in computer science at University of Chicago. Brett is pursuing his PhD in Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He resides in Chicago with his wife and three children.


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