While using data and technology to improve operations has become routine in the business world, these approaches have yet to trickle down to many non-profit, government, and community organizations. For these groups, the human connection remains paramount, but there are many untapped benefits in carefully collecting information about their important work and using it to enhance effectiveness and outreach.
For the last four years, the annual Civic Scopeathon has helped Chicago organizations realize this potential by collaborating with UChicago students in a unique twist on the hackathon model. The event is organized by South Side Civic, a group led by students from the Masters of Science in Computational Analysis & Public Policy (MS-CAPP) a program co-administered by the Department of Computer Science and the Harris School of Public Policy, and from the Harris Masters of Public Policy program.
In this year’s installment, held October 12th and 13th, over 100 graduate and undergraduate students worked with 11 organizations, strategizing how data and technology could resolve their most difficult challenges. Attendees heard talks from speakers with experience using data science with non-profit and government partners, participated in workshops on problem scoping, data collection and exploration, and other relevant topics, and constructed action plans that could guide collaboration beyond the event itself.