Data Analysis as Civic Engagement

Rahul Bhargava, Emily Bhargava
“Data Analysis as Civic Engagement: a new arts ­based approach”

Increasingly, open data efforts and data-driven decision making processes have created a power disparity between those that “speak data” and those that do not. While data-driven public policy decisions can increase the impact and efficacy of interventions, they leave many community members out of conversations and out of decision-making processes. In this session we will present case studies of the collaborative arts-based techniques the Connection Lab and the MIT Center for Civic Media have developed to bring these conversations back into the public sphere. These hands-on activities prepare community members without a background in data analysis to participate actively in the creation and public presentation of data-driven messaging. This offers a new model for civic engagement, bringing people together around data to create public interventions that alter the urban sphere, creating audience-appropriate messaging and increasing the data literacy of participants.

About the speaker: Rahul Bhargava is a computer scientist and educator with a special interest in data literacy. Rahul is a Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Civic Media, where he builds tools and social processes to support and understand media, technology, and civic engagement.