What does service mean these days?

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Photo by Holly Mindrup on Unsplash

This day is always profound for me. Not for some profound memory or reason, but because I remember this day as a child because TV stations will fill the day with movies of war and heroes. This had a profound effect on me as a child, as I imagine it does on our society, they way we idealize war and warriors.

Not surprisingly, I too joined the military when I was 17. Escaping reality, but also running towards the visions of glory I fed myself growing up.

My time in the Army does not define me, but it shaped me. I was no hero, far from it, but I learned a lot about myself and life. I especially learned that I needed to devote myself to something greater than myself in this life to feel fulfilled. …

Help us breathe…

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Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

I still believe that most police officers want to serve the community, and they want to do so with honor. But now I’m realizing that they just don’t know how, don’t have the tools, and our society is tired with the old ways.

It’s not us, it’s you.

This is not my area of expertise, so I’m going to stand on the shoulders of giant. I know many officers, have served with them in the military. I’ve met their families, I know they see themselves as serving something larger than themselves. …

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Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

The cool morning air helped cut the warmth caused by the mask I wore as I walked to my office just a few blocks from the White House. I took the long route from the metro station to better survey the signs from the night before.

An ATM screen pulled from the side of the bank building. Graffiti on signs, buildings, and statues in the park. Broken glass from smashed windows, mostly banks. And the ashes of a fire set in a trashcan on the street.

It wasn’t what it seemed like from the news, at least on my route. The graffiti was clearly done by the same few individuals — same message, colors, and “handwriting”. And the broken glass was similar to what I had seen following protests of the World Bank’s annual meetings. …

Data Science versus Red Tape, a COVID-19 Story.

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Photo by Marcel Hol from FreeImages

You’ve been home for two weeks, you are beginning to realize that your company is going to remain closed for a while. In fact, they just sent you a furlough notice.

You’re spending so much time helping the kids adjust to on-line school you barely have time to realize that your savings are almost gone, and your credit card balances are ticking up steadily.

A few weeks later and it's looking worse. You brave a trip to the store and are starting to search around for food donation options.

As the stress of it all mounts, you are relieved to hear that congress just passed a bill to help. …

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Photo by author.

I’ve always loved the quiet streets of the early mornings in the city. Before the majority of the crowds are awake, out of their houses, and scrambling to get to their places of business.

These quiet times, especially in the cold darkness of winter mornings envelopes me and gives me the peace I seek in life. Alone, usually with my thoughts, having just stepped off the train and dislodged myself from my morning’s reading.

I turn the thoughts and words over in my head, finding their meaning beyond what the author wrote, the meaning applied to me and my prism of perception. …

A strategy to create an ego-less and resilient team.

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Photo by Zoran Nayagam on Unsplash

I’m fortunate that I get to conduct a lot of interviews in my job. We always seem to be hiring someone. To some people this probably sounds terrible, interviews can be uncomfortable for all parties. When they go bad, it can be really bad. But they can also be insightful.

Let me also say, that I don’t believe an interview is always a good way to select someone for a job, but its a great way to see an interesting cross-section of individuals. You can learn a lot from people by their answers. …

A simple way to improve your data science project.

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

“Each week, I run this code after updating it with the new dates. I compile it with historical data, disaggregate it based on the SOP, and then upload it into the dashboard template. Once I’ve checked for errors, I alert the distro-list that the updates are complete”

I sat there and listened — half in shock but the other half of me was beaming because I saw such an easy fix in front of me.

This was how one of our junior data scientists was describing a project, really a weekly update, that he worked on to the larger data teams in our organization. …

How to measure your project’s impact.

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Photo by Jean-Pierre Brungs on Unsplash

A few weeks ago at a team meeting, I couldn’t help but notice how much some people focused on the specifics of project development and deployment. As they described what they were working on, they kept failing to explain how the project fit into the needs of the organization.

When I questioned one of them, they only had a vague sense of how the project was going to be used after they were done developing it.

This was a huge red flag for me — and something I spoke with the team lead directly afterward. My concern went well beyond the lack of context. If they don’t understand the purpose of the tool, how are we going to know if it successful and how are we going to measure the impact? …

Here comes big brother? Or finally our savior?

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Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

On January 13, 2020 the U.S. government published draft rules for the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the United States. (NOTE: This draft is available for public comments until March 13, so there is still an opportunity to exercise your democratic voice!)


For those not familiar with the process, the federal government is often required to post for public review and comment new rules which will apply to individuals and entities in the U.S. This is all because of a law called the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). …

Can we know how the government is using our data?

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Photo by Seth Doyle on Unsplash

Overview and Background

Unless you work in law or the government you may not be aware that most decisions that the U.S. government makes about citizens are fairly controlled and transparent. This is because of a few different laws, but one in particular requires that the government tell everyone what they are going to do, how they are going to do it, why they are going to do it that way, and how you can sue them if they don’t follow their own guidelines.

Oh, and the government also tells you this all in advance and asks for your opinion, which they are required by law to consider (and respond to). …


Joel Nantais

Doctoral student, integrating data science into the public sector. Government executive, learning & teaching leadership. https://bit.ly/2zNYT2f

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