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Big data to help human services: Topic of UW, City of Seattle event Jan. 17

Published on January 14, 2017

A group of people collaborate around a table.
Image Credit: Flickr, Marco Antonio Torres, CC BY-SA

Using big data to address human services ― including health, foster care and the challenges of homelessness ― will be the focus of a workshop next week at Seattle City Hall hosted by the University of Washington and City of Seattle along with MetroLab Network, a recent White House initiative to improve cities through university-city partnerships.

The event begins on Jan. 17 with remarks from UW President Ana Mari Cauce, Seattle Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire. Trish Millines Dziko, founder and director of the Technology Access Foundation, will address how to mentor the next generation of leaders.


In the afternoon, representatives from Microsoft, the City of Chicago and several academic institutions will discuss how data science can be incorporated into more efficient and effective urban human services.

MetroLab Network, which launched in fall 2015 as part of the White House Smart Cities Initiative, includes more than 40 university-city partnerships that will focus on the research, development and deployment of projects that offer technologically and analytically based solutions to challenges facing urban areas. Over the next year, MetroLab members will develop solutions in four areas, called “labs”: water and green infrastructure; sensors; traffic and transportation; and big data and human services.The Seattle-UW partnership is one of the founding members of MetroLab and will focus in part on pairing academic researchers with city leaders to address homelessness issues as well as transportation. Next week’s event will also include a day of workshops for researchers and human services experts to make connections on existing projects and identify priorities for the partnership.

Work will continue after the meeting as MetroLab members focus on opportunities for collaborative research and scalable projects. The workshop will also consider which tools and materials ― data-sharing standards, white papers, software ― would be broadly beneficial to city-university efforts. Urban@UW, the UW’s eScience Institute and Urbanalytics are several university groups that will play a large role in the partnership.

The water and green infrastructure lab kicked off in October 2016 with a workshop in Washington, D.C., and the other labs will begin work in 2017.

General registration is now closed, but those still interested in attending can email Members of the media should RSVP to program coordinator Jess Hamilton at

Originally published by UW Today and Michelle Ma
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