2023 APDU Annual Conference Recap: Equity in Public Data Kick-Off


The 2023 APDU Annual Conference kicked off last week on July 25, 2023, with a triple presentation session about Applying New Data Sources for Equity in Public Data by representatives from Coleridge Initiative, Urban Institute and DataHaven. Attendees got an opportunity to learn from fellow professionals in the field and discuss different data-centric approaches towards ensuring equity in key areas such as community representation and funding apportionment.

The first presentation was from the Coleridge Initiative, who discussed their Democratizing our Data Challenge (DDC), which has been in operation for two years. The DDC has developed a community of practice and provided funding and guidance for working with administrative data across agency and state lines for the nine first-round and three second-round participating teams. Attendees learned about the DDC’s various interest areas, such as building better understanding and Use of K-12 Data, which can ultimately help state agencies become more familiar with the experiences of their diverse populations and the measure the value of their programs.

Urban Institute then presented their findings from their landscape scan of public-private data sharing partnerships. They also shared learnings from stakeholder interviews with producers and users of private-sector data sources and experts in data sharing and ethical data usage. These findings included incentives and disincentives for public and private partners participating in data sharing; the lack of available race-disaggregated data sources in the private sector; and innovative data science tools such as data linkage and imputation that hold promise in obtaining race and ethnicity identifiers. In addition to gaining a better perspective on the current data landscape, attendees were also privy to recommendations for advancing equitable public-private data sharing partnerships.

The final presentation of the session was from DataHaven, who focused on their Town Equity Reports, which are widely used by public agencies and residents in every Connecticut town. The reports use innovative, analytical approaches in addition to federal, state, and local datasets to produce disaggregated data by race, ethnicity, and other demographic characteristics not available elsewhere. Attendees were not only able to see the application of national measures applied at the local level, but they were also able to learn about the specific use cases and ongoing refinement of these new resources.

The Applying New Data Sources for Equity in Public Data Session was a great session to kick off the APDU Conference. Touching on the expansion of demographic data, as well as the means by which such data is collected and housed, opens up discussion about how data science professionals can explore unique methods in promoting equity and solve public problems. Many learned about the potential bridges between sectors and levels of government, and we hope that the session continued conversations amongst APDU members and beyond.