Connecticut Convenes Equity in Data Community of Practice

Connecticut by the Numbers

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Equity in Data Community of Practice meets next on June 15.CT Numbers image

Connecticut's Equity in Data Community of Practice, organized by the Connecticut Data Collaborative, is a steadily growing group of data users across the state, in the public and private sector, who are working toward more equitable data practices. The ad hoc group, which began nearly a year ago with a focus on racial equity, explicitly but not exclusively, has grown from a handful initially to more than 100+ data users in numerous disciplines and fields.

The group’s upcoming session, on Tuesday, June 15, is held virtually and is open to anyone interested in the topic, free of charge. The monthly sessions are held, virtually, from 11:30 to 1:00. Individuals may register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/equity-in-data-community-of-practice-june-2021-tickets-136607279049

A community of practice is a group of people with common work or interests who talk about theory and practice issues to improve their work. Group members each possess different skill levels and knowledge and also come with a common belief that they can learn from and contribute to one another.

This group of Connecticut data creators and users has gathered virtually each month since last June to discuss equity and ethics in their data work, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Each month, group members select a topic or article for discussion, and invite guests to help participants explore the topic.

The June session will feature Jasmine Johnson, Program Associate, Evaluation and Learning, at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies in Tulsa, OK. The discussion will highlight successes and challenges experienced while using or collecting demographic data.

The Connecticut Data Collaborative (CTData) is a statewide public-private partnership that focuses on ensuring that public data is open and accessible. CTData, as an advocate for accessible data, runs the CTData Academy, so individuals, businesses and organizations can become more informed data users and critical data consumers. The Data Academy accomplishes this through informational sessions and workshops throughout the year to help participants become more comfortable with using and disseminating data.

“While there are codes of ethics for various professions that data users may belong to, there is no unified code of ethics for working on data projects,” said Sarah Eisele-Dyrli, Assistant Director at the CT Data Collaborative, who leads the CTData Academy. The community of practice is part of the CTData Academy, as part of its mission to support informed decision-making in Connecticut through empowering an ecosystem of data users and building the data skills of Connecticut's data users.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some of the challenges around data creation and use. Among the key questions: Who gets to create the data? Who can share the data? Who makes the decisions about the distribution of resources based on the data,” explained Michelle Riordan-Nold, Executive Director of the Connecticut Data Collaborative. “These are some of the pivotal questions that participants are exploring, as we continually enhance efforts to develop and use data in ethical and equitable ways.”

The community of practice sessions delve into demographic data that is collected - information about people's characteristics such as their race and ethnicity, age, income, etc. The process can offer great promise by providing a means to disaggregate data in order to learn whether various groups are being impacted differently than others. It could also bring unintended, and less positive, consequences. Johnson and the session participants on June 15 will discuss the report More Than Numbers: A Guide Toward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Data Collection.

Upcoming Equity in Data Community of Practice sessions are scheduled for July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16 and December 21. Among the topics that have been discussed: data walks; integrating equity into all phases of the data life cycle; and determining how much should be shared as a project gets underway and proceeds with data collection – including issues such as consent and potential harm.

In addition to CTData Academy, CT Data provides customized data training, hosts easy-to-use, downloadable data, creates customized data visualizations and interactive data tools, provides data consulting services, and supports a community of data users through events and conferences.

More than 200 data sets are now accessible to the public on the CTData website, including a wide array of subjects and policy categories. CTData was recognized last year by the Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards in the Education category. More information is available at www.ctdata.org.

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Connecticut by the Numbers is the state’s leading numbers-driven news website, in its 10th year of operation. The news site, www.ctnumbers.news, provides articles focused on public policy issues and demographic data, including reporting on education, environment, transportation, finance, healthcare, tourism, public safety, housing, business and nonprofits.

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