Meet our Founder, Ambassador of DC to SXSW

Carey Anne Nadeau is the founder and CEO of Open Data Nation, which offers analytics and engagements that generate a return on public investment in open, public data. Keep up with Carey Anne as she represents DC as an ambassador at South by Southwest @opendatanation

First of all, tell us a little about yourself! What’s your academic background?

I have a BA in Political Science with a focus on Public Policy from George Washington University and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to my formal education, I have worked in the think tank world for nearly a decade—at the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute — as a Research Analyst. My research has focused primarily on low-income urban living—where do poor people live in US cities, how has this changed over time, and what does this mean for their lived experiences accessing and affording public transportation, childcare, and jobs.

I’m a Native-American woman, small business founder and owner of Open Data Nation, a social-benefit corporation. I consult policymakers, professionals, and academics to train employees, reach new audiences, crowdsource decision making, and evaluate open, public data for insights.

How did you first become interested in working with data? How did your education parlay into your current career?

I started thinking analytically as a kid, building with legos—I’d identify a flaw in my construction, figure out how to strategically deconstruct it, and then rebuild better and stronger. This thought process ports well to my career as an Analyst and now entrepreneur—applying a scientific method to problem solving is rarely linear, it takes multiple tries to construct, deconstruct, and create something new that is stronger and better than when you began (even then you probably see ways you could have done it better).

What types of data are you dealing with on a daily basis? How do you use data to improve the community?

In the past few years, cities around the world began publishing unprecedented amounts of data, in the hopes that it would increase transparency. Now, these data publishers have goals to engage citizens, make better data-driven decisions, and improve the way they do business.

Open Data Nation works with those who publish this “open data,” data published online for public consumption and re-use. We help policymakers, professionals, and academics to reach their goals by providing trainings to employees, communications strategies to reach new audiences, and analytics.

What impact does open data have on policy-makers and communities?

Like a book on the shelf that no one reads, open data is a resource that is currently underutilized. Even worse, few people know that the library of data even exists. Developing data as a force for widespread democratic, social, and economic good will take time, but I believe it starts with a commitment to open data, to teaching how and why data is used, and to sharing the tools of the future with the public of today.

What are you most excited about right now?

In the spring of 2016, we’ll launch applications that help cities and counties we have consulted to prioritize their work based on risk. For example, FIVAR.org uses open data to send health inspectors to restaurants with the highest likelihood of a violation first and helps health departments react in real time to food borne illness outbreaks. FIVAR saves $2 million per year and establishes performance metrics for the first time that will sustain cost savings for its subscribers. Next up, we envision using the same platform to prioritize elevator maintenance so that the disabled can consistently use public transportation systems and crosswalk repainting to reduce traffic fatalities at the riskiest intersections. 

This article, in part, was written by Emily Pope and first appeared as a post in General Assembly’s blog.