Data Needs Assessment Data Jam

Justin Joque

Fall 2012

This presentation lis licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial Share Alike 3.0 license. Copyight 2012. Justin Joque.


  • Introduction
  • Basics of a data needs assessment - we will begin to look at how to structure an evaluation of current data collection, organization and analysis and look to finding/creating additional data
  • Ozone House data needs assessment - we will look at some of Ozone House's data and develop strategies for making suggestions

Data Needs Evaluation - Introduction

  • The following framework is a suggestion
  • Follow the data (but do not get lost in it!)
  • Be critical about both questions and answers
    • Think of it like a reference interview
  • Be aware of institutional capacity
  • First figure out what they have; then what they would like to have
  • Think about the big picture and the organization's mission

Needs Evaluation

3 Critical Components:

  • Collection Processes
    • Is the current process working?
    • Do additional components need to be added?
  • Data Organization
    • Does the organization facilitate moving data from collection to analysis?
    • This includes location, design and control
    • This is an area where you can have a big impact
    • The best solutions are often times the least complex
  • Data Analysis
    • What questions can you help answer?
    • What methods and tools can you recommend?

Data Evaluation

  • 2 Types of Data Needs:
    • One Time Data Need: This is something you can do at the Data Dive. There is no need to worry about reproducibility or the organization's access to tools or know-how.
    • Recurring Data Need: A recurring data need would involve data that is continually updated or requires new analysis depending on changing conditions (this could be daily, monthly or even yearly). When making recommendations about recurring data needs the most important thing is to make sure any process you suggest is realistic to implement by the organization

recurring data can be a one time need if you can not reproduce it

Data Evaluation

  • 2 Data Sources
    • Internally Produced: Data produced as a byproduct of normal operations (e.g. Intake surveys, server logs, financial information) or data produced as part of regular reporting (e.g. Annual Survey). This may be a place that you can recommend structures and organization schemes that may be helpful (we will talk more about that in the second Data Jam)
    • Externally Produced: Data produced by other organizations that is often publicly available. This would include anything from state or local information to Census Data and beyond.

administrative vs. research data

Data Evaluation

Internally Produced Data

Externally Produced Data

One Time Data Need

Recurring Data Need

  • Research!
  • Use whatever tools you like
  • Document sources, tools and methodology
  • Use whatever tools you like
  • Still document your methodology
  • Consider that it may become recurring
  • Think about how their collection impacts your analysis (random samples)
  • Think about the organization and collection of data. Does it lend itself to analysis?
  • What are the costs and benefits of gathering more data?
  • Focus on creating a reproducible process rather than on actual data
  • Be aware of what resources are available to the organization
  • Think about how this process can be updated

administrative vs. research in terms of cost/benefits for recurring internally produced (administrative can be more sustainable), but you can overwhelm an administrative process.

survey's are not easy

Case Study - Ozone House

  • Think about collection, organization and analysis
  • Think about the four types of data needs
  • Think about processes in addition to data
  • We do not have to necessarily solve the following problems, but rather think through strategies for solving them

Case Study - Ozone House

Q1: What are the rates of high school graduation/GED completion in the county?

  • What is Ozone House's impact on this?
  • How many people graduate high school or complete a GED while with Ozone House?

Once we find this number how do we make it repeatable?


Case Study - Ozone House

Q2: Find numbers that define the scope of youth homelessness and at-risk of being homeless in Washtenaw County.

  • What % of this population does Ozone come into contact with?
  • What % does Ozone serve?

Case Study - Ozone House

Wikipedia (Homelessness in the United States):

"Over the past decade or so, the availability and quality of data on homelessness has improved considerably, due in part to initiatives by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and several nongovernmental organizations working with homeless populations. Since 2007, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued an Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which reports to Congress the number of individuals and families who are homeless in the previous year, both sheltered and unsheltered, in order to standardize data and collection processes for government officials and service providers." CC BY SA 3.0

You are not expected to be an expert in the subject matter; so do not feel bad about finding background information. Wikipedia/google may not be the best sources for reputable information, but they can point you on the right track.

Case Study - Ozone House

Q3:(Big question) How much does it “cost” a taxpayer when a young person goes into the system? System(s)?

  • Social welfare system (depends on the ages); younger pop go through foster systems older ones fall into justice system
  • DHS (includes food stamps, cash assistance, WIC, Medicaid recipients, Washtenaw Health Plan (medical and prescription drug insurance)
  • School system: if not attending, not as many eyes watching them, truancy, school lunches, clothing assistance

Case Study - Ozone House

Q4: What are the youth unemployment rates in Washtenaw County, both in general and specifically among homeless youth?

Some information may not exist. What other information can we use?

Is there a way the organization can figure this out w/ their population - perhaps different populations (intake/after)

A2Data Jam 2012 Ozone House Data Needs Assessment - Google Slides