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By Jerica Copeny

New Season: Change Occurs

As the season changes, from summer to fall, we physically see around us the hot summer days, with green bustling leaves change to cooler nights and multi-shaded leaves. As with any change that we experience it creates new perspective of our experiences and our surroundings. This change of new perspective extends itself to work occurring at EVPL as well. Within our library we are expanding our approaches to how we work with communities, being involved in social good efforts. These approaches are occurring within my work as the Civic Data Scientist for the library.

Change Occurs: New Perspective

As the Civic Data Scientist the role of my work is to utilize data science techniques to help explore social issues affecting communities such as health, literacy, education, urban development through:

  • Working with partners to determine what the problem is to be explored through data
  • What access to the data can occur in agreement with partners
  • What types of data is available to uncover on how to understand the problem
  • Determining questions that come with exploring the data
  • Visualizing those questions in assessing the data in tangible ways through graphs and other data visualization options
  • When required building predictive models to find the patterns of historical data through machine learning (utilizing algorithms that can learn to make predictions on data)
  • Create evaluation processes of models for partners to determine appropriate next steps

Harnessing these data science techniques is a way to have impact at scale of who we work with, who we help and how we understand how we approach problems affecting our society.

New Perspective: Impact at Scale

I had the great opportunity to be involved in another effort where impact occurred at scale by working on a team where we partnered with the New City Mayor’s Office. As a team member, I worked as one of the fellows through the Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship at the University of Chicago. We worked on how to combat tenant harassment due to the effect of New York City’s affordable housing crisis through machine learning. We worked to utilize algorithms to create a prioritized list of what buildings to visit first to conduct outreach.  Here is a recap of the experience and the work that occurred over the summer.

As summer ends and a new season begins, I look forward to being able to build upon on this work and to foster partnerships within Evansville and the Tri-State area in hopes of continuing to create impact at scale and work to expand the new perspective of EVPL’s role in serving our communities.

Jerica Copeny
Civic Data Scientist

Jerica Copeny


Jerica Copeny is the Civic Data Scientist for Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library. While her work requires copious amounts of time to explore data sets she enjoys the same amount in-depth exploration of cooking and food excursions through travelling.

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