APDU Board Member: Why I Attend the APDU Annual Conference


By: Michelle Riordan-Nold, Executive Director, CT Data Collaborative

At times it seems as if I never leave my seat as I jump from zoom call to a Teams meeting then back on Zoom or into GoToMeeting. During these past 12 months of working virtually during Covid-19, with meetings and webinars seemingly endless and exhausting at times, the APDU conference is the one event I did not miss last summer and look forward to virtually attending again this summer.

Since 2015, I have attended the annual APDU data conference each year. When a conference ends, I want to walk away with ideas I could implement at my organization – informed about new public data or a research methodology— energizing me to innovate and provide the public we serve with new ways to access and use data. The APDU conference has never let me down which is why I return each year. At APDU, I have found that I will:

1) learn about a new federal policy or hear updates about federal policies that will impact public data

2) hear about techniques or methods of improving administrative data

3) discover datatset I didn’t know existed

To give you an idea of the breadth and depth of data discussions that take place at the conference, I went through my conference notes and pulled out information that I had found useful from previous years.

Working at the local level, I am most familiar with state public data and the APDU conference is the only opportunity I have to hear directly from Federal government employees of the statistical agencies. The conference provides access to an audience with extensive data expertise such that the presentations are informative but with a broad audience from across the nation the Q&A provides additional learning and insights.

Federal policies around data:

  • Differential Privacy – perspectives on the new methodology from both the Census Bureau and statisticians working outside government
  • Foundations for Evidence Based Policy Making Act passed in November 2017
  • Consolidation of the statistical agencies into Commerce Department

New techniques of linking data:

  • Commodity flow data – linking Census Bureau of Transportation statistics

New data:

Michelle Riordan-Nold, a member of the APDU Board and Executive Director of the CTData Collaborative. The Connecticut Data Collaborative was created to advance effective planning and decision-making through the use of open and accessible data.  CT Data serves a lead role in convening data users and producers and facilitating conversations that bring together key data entities to advance a common agenda around data development, access, standards, and use.  CT Data also seeks to increase data literacy, build data capacity, and enable the government and organizations across the state to use data effectively in evaluation and advocacy that impacts social lives.