News

Urban Data Scientist and Policy Analyst to Keynote the 11th Annual Transportation & Communities Summit at PSU
Author: Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC)
Posted: April 5, 2019

This event is hosted by the Transportation Research & Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University, and funded in part by the National Institute for Transporation and Communities (NITC).

Ben Wellington

We’ve been hosting an annual summit that connects national mobility-focused research to local practice for eleven years now. Registration for Transportation and Communities Summit 2019 is now open, and this year we’re focusing our attention on three key themes: Intersection of Transportation and Housing / Land Use; New Mobility in Active Transportation; and Multimodal Data: Collecting, Processing, Analyzing, and Using.

In exploring the multimodal data theme further, we’re excited to welcome our keynote Ben Wellington—a data scientist and policy analyst from New York, NY. The founder of I Quant NY, his data analysis has influenced local government policy including changes in NYC street infrastructure, the way New Yorkers pay for cabs and the design of NYC subway vending machines, and made it’s way to TEDTalks “Making Data Mean More Through Storytelling” and “How We Found the Worst Place to Park in New York City — using Big Data”.

Across the world, the Open Data movement is growing and more and more cities are releasing data to the public. As citizens push for more openness, it is fair to ask: what can we do with all of this data to make our cities better? In his keynote, Ben will explore how he uses some data science techniques to make changes in the city he lives in: New York City. From parking ticket geography, to restaurant inspection scores to subway and taxi pricing, he will discuss best practices for data science in the policy space, explore how storytelling is an important aspect of data science and highlight the various data-driven interactions he's had with City agencies that have led to infrastructure and policy changes. Along the way, Ben will point out that data science need not always use complicated math and complex programs. He will show examples of the power of simple arithmetic, and show how often it is more about your curiosity and the questions you ask than the complexity of the equations you use. Some main takeaways?

Anybody can be a data storyteller, and data storytelling can be simplified in five steps:

  • Connect with people’s experiences
  • Focus on one idea  
  • Keep it simple
  • Explore the things you know the best, and
  • Make an impact

In addition to being a data scientist and policy analyst, Ben also teaches improv! On the second day of the Transportation and Communities Summit, Ben will be leading a workshop on "Cultivating Leadership Skills through the Power of Improv" (Sept. 20; 9AM - 12PM) at PSU. Add-on workshops are available for an additional cost, and are also open to non-Summit Day (Sept. 19th) attendees.

The 11th annual Transportation and Communities Summit 2019 will be held at Portland State University (PSU) in Portland, Oregon, offering breakout panels, PechaKucha, posters, and networking. We’ll also be hosting a second day of half and full-day workshops, for those wanting a deeper dive into skill building in human-centered design, qualitative pedestrian data, using open-source strategic planning models, and more.

The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and young professionals through education.