Open Data Rockstar: Tyrone Grandison

October 12, 2015 9:31 am PST | Data Rockstars

Tyrone-GrandisonAs Deputy Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Tyrone Grandison’s work touches many aspects of the nation’s open data movement. He’s received numerous awards, co-invented many patents, and his extensive software engineering career has infused coding culture with people power, including by co-founding the Diversity in Privacy and Security Seminar, Wonder Woman Hacks, and Hacks for Humanities.

Why data-driven government?

Data-driven government holds a lot of promise. The hope of enabling smarter policy decisions. The hope of more informed operational outcomes. The hope of better tools, processes and services for citizens. The hope of focused open data platforms upon which innovation can occur. The benefits of a data-driven government are worth the pains necessary to make the transformation occur.

Was there a moment where you realized, “This is why I do what I do.”?

As a part of the U.S. Census Bureau team working on the CitySDK initiative, I co-organized a hackathon on Diversity and Social Justice in Baltimore, Maryland. There was a moment on Day 2, when Artscape was in full swing, where I looked up and saw five teams diligently working on making progress on tools to solve real problems. Seeing people giving their time on a beautiful weekend to help their communities made me say to myself “This is why I do this.”

Who’s your open data idol?

Jeffrey Chen, the Chief Data Scientist at the U.S. Department of Commerce. I am inspired daily by his work. He has used open datasets for social good in so many fields. From predictive detection of fires in New York, to operational logistics during Hurricane Katrina, to analyzing climate change models, he is the epitome of what an open data philanthropist and rockstar should be.

Favorite open data app you use yourself?

My favorite open data “thing” is not an app, but a website: Governing is an interesting example of providing visualizations for user stories that are driven by community needs. It is even more impressive in that it is a holding space for government data.

What’s your advice for making open data interesting?

Whenever possible, tie it to a standard. Always ensure that it meets one or more use cases. Provide an example of a story that can be told with the open data you are creating.

If you weren’t doing open data, what would you be doing?

I would be focused on fixing companies. I spent a few years leading firms through organizational change management; helping them find new revenue paths, figuring out inhibitors (personnel, process or technology), and leading them to sustainable improvement. It felt like being a therapist to a family having issues. It is worth in the end when the family gets to an honest, authentic, and productive space.

Where to see Grandison’s work:

Delve into U.S. CitySDK, a toolbox for civic innovators to connect local and national public data. You can also catch Grandison in person at the open-to-the-public Commerce Data Advisory Council (CDAC) meeting October 29-30 in Boulder, Colorado.

Join us for Dr. Tyrone Grandison’s Lightning Talk on October 27 at the Socrata Customer Summit! Get a free 1-day pass: Register with the code SCS-daypass.

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