We make things better with data
We take a highly-skilled analytical approach that blends statistics, programming, and theory to elucidate trends, make predictions, improve performance, and infer causality.
Statistics, programming, data, and experimentation have all been around at least as long as modern science. From Alan Turing’s early computers to the “Hidden Figures” at NASA who used math and programming to help get astronauts into space, humans have realized efficiency gains by combining technology with human ingenuity. Data science as a field, however, is more recent, and the idea of using it to help solve social problems only occurred to some within the last few years.
The Center was on the leading edge and is now one of only a few organizations that is performing data science at scale with real clients from the social sector. Moreover, we may be the only socially-minded organization whose focus extends beyond data science, encompassing expertise from diverse fields like early education and criminal justice.
Data is now more accessible than ever. Data.gov makes more than 210,000 datasets available on nearly every issue area related to our work at Sorenson Impact. The proliferation of data is so rapid that one frequently cited report estimated that 90% of data in the world was created in the previous two years alone.
WHAT WE DO
The Center’s data scientists combine their skills in statistics and programming with expertise in data privacy and policy to help governments, nonprofits, and philanthropists working in a wide array of issue areas. Clients frequently encounter problems that, while not unique to the social sector, are felt more acutely by resource-strapped organizations, for example:
- Poor data matching procedures and data silos, where observations about similar people, places, or institutions are not brought together properly
- Aging data infrastructure, including software and hardware that is either at a high risk of failure, or that makes access to the data difficult
- Inappropriate security levels, where data is either shared too freely or not freely enough
- Small samples and messy data, making statistical inference difficult
These challenges often stand in the way of answering basic questions. Are we having a positive impact? How can we improve our services? What is the outcome of our policies? The Center’s theory of change is that easier access to administrative data and the tools to analyze it will revolutionize the way governments and nonprofits deliver services.
Praise for the Sorenson Impact Center's Data Science Team
See our Think Tank blog posts to learn more about what our Data Science team is working on:
How we empower clients with data:
data diagnostics & work plans
We offer data diagnostics to identify gaps in data and to inform customized work plans.
data sharing negotiations
We help convene the various owners of data systems to talk through requirements and achieve high levels of collaboration through data sharing agreements.
coding & accessing
We write code to access, merge, and clean data to be most beneficial to users, mindful of best practices around security, redundancy, and version control.
data & code repositories
We develop data and code repositories to institutionalize our work and put clients on the road to sustainability.
custom dashboards & visualizations
We create dashboards and visualizations of client data in order to express trends and other important information in a user-friendly and persuasive form.