The Florida Data Science for Social Good (FL-DSSG) program is an intensive 12-week internship that invites students to tackle data-rich projects that have the potential for substantial social impact. The 2021 program was conducted in a limited capacity and remotely. The 2021 FL-DSSG program supported seven interns from various disciplines and three nonprofit organizations from the State of Florida. The 2021 FL-DSSG summer internship program started on June 1 and ended on August 20, 2021. Interns presented the project results at an open to public Big Reveal event on August 17, 2021, via Zoom Webinar and YouTube Live. The 2021 FL-DSSG program was supported by the Jacksonville Jaguar Foundation and FIS Distinguished Professorship Award. Dr. Dan Richard from the Department of Psychology and Dr. Karthikeyan Umapathy from the School of Computing spearhead the FL-DSSG program.
FL-DSSG Big Reveal Event was held on August 17th, 2021, from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM as a Zoom webinar event. At the event, DSSG interns presented findings and revealed insights gained from the Barnabas Center, League of Women Voters of Florida, and Jewish Family and Community Services data science projects. Below you can access the PowerPoint file and video recordings of the presentations.
FL-DSSG projects address wicked problems, issues that have been persistent social issues in our community for many years. FL-DSSG program obtains relevant data from the community partners pertinent to the issue and assists partners in making data-driven decisions for addressing their wicked social problem. Wicked problems addressed in the 2021 program include the impact of health care services and emergency visit costs, profiling voter registration and communication modalities, and analyzing therapists scheduling and healthcare service costs.
Barnabas provides health services, crisis assistance, and food programs to qualifying residents of Nassau County. Barnabas Center’s strategic plan includes helping people beyond their crisis through case management and programs focused on returning clients to self-sufficiency with hope and happiness in their future. Barnabas Center offers medical and dental services, including primary, preventative, and behavioral healthcare. Health services are offered to patients who are at 200% or below the Federal Poverty Level income guidelines. The center also operates the largest food pantry in Nassau County, provides subsidies to cover rent and utilities, and runs a resale store for clothing and household goods.
The wicked social problem tackled in this project is healthcare overspending due to emergency department (ED) over-utilization. The majority of the emergency visits are avoidable and could have taken place in a lower-cost primary care setting, like the health services provided by Barnabas Center. Sadly, the cost of ED visits is more than a financial issue. When patients seek preventative care in an acute care setting, there are qualitative drawbacks as well. When patients utilize the ED, the relationship built with a provider, continuity of care, and routine service delivery is impeded. The United States spends dramatically more than any other Nation on healthcare; however, the outcomes are far worse. These striking facts underscore the pervasiveness and pressing nature of the social problem. Barnabas is determined to combat this problem by ensuring that Nassau residents have access to affordable primary care as an alternative to visiting the ED or being hospitalized unnecessarily.
This DSSG project assists Barnabas with analyzing the impacts of medical and dental services. The important questions Barnabas seeking answers to are: what is the percentage change in ED visits/admissions of established Barnabas patients over one year, what is the estimated cost savings with avoidance of ED visits by Barnabas patients, what percentage of established patients (with an office visit within one year) were visited the ED or were admitted to the hospital, how do Barnabas percentages compare with national averages, and what percentage of current patients (seen within the last year) fall into the category of high ED users. Answers to these questions would help in determining the effectiveness of health services offered by the Barnabas Center. The project findings would help Barnabas develop a more targeted intervention for keeping Nassau residents out of the hospital for preventable causes.
Barnabas Center Website
The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVFL) encourages informed and active participation in government, increases understanding of major policy issues, and advocates for legislative changes and policies for the public good. The League is strictly nonpartisan and never endorses candidates or political parties. The League is open to both men and women, with over 29 active local Leagues statewide.
The League of Women Voters of Florida’s mission is to empower voters and defend democracy. The core activities of the League focuses on ensuring voting rights and education. In 2020, the League increased Vote-By-Mail requests and usage of early voting sites and ballot drop boxes. The League produced 250,000+ printed voter guides and made 308,000+ Get Out The Vote phone calls and texts. All of this increased voter turnout statewide, working through 29 chapters.
The League is seeking assistance from FL-DSSG to analyze voter participation and turnout in Florida. The League would like to know the following: which areas of the state had the lowest voter turnout and why, why did register voters not vote, what would make Florida citizens feel compelled to register to vote and also vote, and what is the best way to reach non-voters.
League of Women Voters of Florida Website
Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS) mission is to strengthen the entire community by providing family and individual social services in the Jewish tradition of helping people help themselves. JFCS provides quality social and community services across the life spectrum to enhance the lives of children, adults, seniors, and families coping with challenges that arise throughout the lifecycle. JFCS programs provide a broad range of social services through key areas of child welfare, counseling, adoptions, co-parenting classes, financial assistance, food pantry, senior care, and library.
The social good problem addressed in this project is mental health counseling and therapy. JFCS counseling department serves children and parents with psychiatric and outpatient counseling services. JFCS staff includes a team of clinical social workers, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists to help people overcome problems. JFCS offers counseling services on depression/anxiety, life transitions, grief & loss, separation/divorce, adoption, parenting, relationships, gender identity issues, coping with illness, childhood behavioral issues, and issues of abuse and neglect.
The counseling department relies on nine therapists to bill sufficient hours each month to keep the doors open. The counseling service billing is never sufficient. Thus, JFCS constantly seeks additional funding streams to pay for department expenses. JFCS seeks assistance from FL-DSSG to analyze billing methods and procedures to improve the “no show” rate, improve the scheduling process, increase consistent billing, and make recommendations to improve departmental revenue.
Jewish Family and Community Services Website
Students work as DSSG Interns in a 12-week, paid internship program. Interns from multi-disciplinary backgrounds work as a team to help community partners make data-driven decisions. Interns receive valuable experience with data management, analysis, technology, and community needs. Interns are supervised by DSSG program directors and receive guidance from industry mentors as well as faculty project leads.
FL-DSSG Mentors, referred to as Sherpas, are industry leaders who help interns take the right steps and complete the project successfully. Sherpas work along with program directors to mentor interns on industry best practices for solving data science problems, advise program directors on work plans, and provide technical guidance on project tasks.
David Garfunkel is President of LIFT JAX, an initiative of business and community leaders working to eradicate generational poverty in Jacksonville. David leads LIFT JAX in its role as Community Quarterback. LIFT JAX is a nonprofit organization that drives the community revitalization initiative in Jacksonville’s Eastside in partnership with resident leaders. Before joining LIFT JAX, David worked for five years at FSG; a nonprofit consulting firm focused on finding new ways to advance social change. David developed expertise in collective impact, a structured approach that brings together community leaders from across sectors to work on solving challenges in their communities. David started his career as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, where he served for three years in the area of community economic development. Following the 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti, he moved to Port-au-Prince, where he led a rural loan and education program for Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance institution. David holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor’s Degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in Spanish and International Management. David lives in Jacksonville with his spouse, Stephanie, and their two daughters, Lucia and Eliza.
Jay Lewis has held multiple analytics roles over 12 years in banking and organizational psychology. As Digital Insights & Analytics Manager at TIAA Bank, he produces analysis and reporting focused on the online user experience within TIAA Bank's digital department. A Tableau user since 2012, Jay has been a regular contributor in the North Florida Tableau User Group, a guest speaker at Tableau's annual conference, and a 3-time Tableau Viz of the Day winner. He came to visual analytics from a media and journalism education, earning a B.A. in media studies from Washington University, an M.B.A. from Webster University, and an M.A. in media communications from Webster University. He also taught coursework on media research methods as an adjunct at Webster.
Victor C. Li grew up in sunny Los Angeles among traffic and taco trucks, raised by a computer scientist and a statistician - shocking the world when he became a data scientist. He froze (yet thrived) in Providence for his undergraduate years at Brown University where he earned an Sc.B. in Statistics and was involved with sports analytics, opioid research, orchestral music, poker, and a brief stint in catering. During college, he interned back home with UCLA Men’s Basketball assisting with their data collection and reporting and at Paramount Pictures building machine learning models to predict how films will perform at the box office. After graduating in 2017, Victor moved to Jacksonville to work as an Advanced Analytics Developer for the Jaguars and after two years has almost gotten used to the humidity.
Laurel Wainwright is an innovative solutions specialist and change management analyst with a data focus on environmental services, disease control efforts, and public policy recommendations. She uses management science techniques to provide solutions to complex business problems and has experience working in multiple industries. Her expertise is childhood literacy data examination through grant funded work and promotion of environmental stewardship. Laurel is currently finishing her master’s degree in Public Policy at Jacksonville University.
Faculty leads work along with FL-DSSG program directors to assist interns in solving problems related to data science and good social projects. Faculty leads provide subject-matter expertise on project tasks and engagement with community partners.
Beyza Aslan is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and the Director of the Math Center at the University of North Florida. She received her Ph. D in Applied Mathematics from University of Florida. Dr. Aslan’s research focuses on lightning modeling, lightning data analysis, and data analysis and pattern recognition for mitochondrial disorders to improve the diagnostic process.
Dr. Michelle DeDeo is an Associate Professor in UNF’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics and a Research Collaborator with Mayo Clinic - Jacksonville. Dr. DeDeo’s research involves interdisciplinary computational science, which intersects data science, number theory, theoretical physics and chemistry, engineering, and statistics. She is a published author (see ORCID) with a demonstrated history of statistical and data science work with clinicians and researchers. Recent data science projects include analyzing the survivability of patients with glioblastoma, prediction of pediatric seizures, and studying the effects of opioids in Northeast Florida using data science and statistics. Her work has earned her several grants and awards, including a Deans Fellowship, UNF’s Outstanding Teaching Award, a $1.6M DOE Teacher Quality Program grant as a Co-PI, and others. Dr. DeDeo presents nationally on her research and, most recently, has been invited to be a Keynote Speaker at the 3rd Annual Conference on Data Science, Analytics, and Artificial Intelligence in Boca Raton, FL.
Lakshmi Goel is currently working as a Professor of Information Systems, Associate Dean of Coggin Graduate and Executive Programs, and holds the Coggin Endowed Strategic Professorship at the Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida (UNF). Lakshmi received her PhD in Decision and Information Sciences from the University of Houston. Her research interests lie at the intersection of strategic use of technologies by small and medium enterprises in areas such as social media, business analytics, and innovation networks. Her work within the Jacksonville community has earned her recognition as a Community Scholar, and a High Impact Researcher by UNF, and an Innovator in Education by the Jacksonville Business Journal. Her research works are published in various national and interactional conferences such as International Conference on Information Systems, Americas Conference on Information Systems, Academy of Management, and European Conference on Information Systems; and in top-ranked journals such as Management Information Systems Quarterly, Journal of the Association of Information Systems, Decision Support Systems, Information and Management, Information and Organization, and Information Systems Journal.
Haiyan Huang received her Ph.D. in Information Sciences and Technology from the Pennsylvania State University. She also earned a M.S. in Ceramic Science and Engineering from New York State College and a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Central South University in China. Before joining Flagler College, Dr. Huang has taught at Michigan Technological University, Purdue University Calumet, and the Pennsylvania State University. Her primary research interests include Web usability and user experiences, IT adoption, diversity of IT workforce, global information systems development, and virtual collaborations. Dr. Huang has published more than 30 journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers. Her research was recognized by a journal publication award and a best conference paper award. Dr. Huang is also in charge of managing and coordinating the Management Information Systems (MIS) programs at Flagler College.
Dr. Xudong Liu is a tenure-track assistant professor in the School of Computing at the University of North Florida, and a visiting researcher at Xerox PARC. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from University of Kentucky in 2016, and his B.Eng. in Software Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology in 2010. Dr. Liu’s research mostly has been about solving both theoretical and practical problems on decision making, using tools and methods found in Artificial Intelligence, Computational Social Science, and Computational Complexity Theory. His research results have been published, or accepted for publication, in premier venues in Artificial intelligence such as the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and the Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence. Dr. Liu’s Erdős number is 3, and he is an AAAI member.
Dr. Amanda Blakewood Pascale is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration within the College of Education and Human Services at the University of North Florida. Dr. Pascale holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration as well as a graduate certificate in Quantitative Methods in Education from the University of Tennessee. Her research examines cultures conducive to success in higher education milieus and the praxis of ideas that promote university community success particularly for those who are underrepresented or in transition. Dr. Pascale routinely teaches graduate level courses in quantitative and qualitative methods as well as assessment in higher education. She is an advocate of the use of data and assessment to inform decisions, practice, and policy in educational settings.
Gordon F.M. Rakita is a bioarchaeologist and Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, & Social Work. He also serves as Director of Academic Technology at UNF. Prior to joining the faculty at UNF he was Principal Investigator and Analytical Director for SWCA Environmental Consultants of Flagstaff, Arizona. He is Associate Editor for the journal Bioarchaeology International. He earned his B.A. in Anthropology from University of North Carolina at Greensboro and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. In 2016 he was named the junior laureate of the Lloyd Cotsen Prize for Lifetime Achievement in World Archaeology. His areas of expertise include bioarchaeology, anthropological approaches to mortuary and other ritual behavior, analytical data management and statistical analyses, emergent social inequality and complexity, and evolutionary theory.
Sandeep Reddivari is an Asssociate Professor in the School of Computing at the University of North Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the Mississippi State University. Dr. Reddivari's research interests include software engineering, visual analytics, information retrieval, data mining, text mining, healthcare data analytics, and visualization and virtual reality in healthcare. Dr. Reddivari’s expertise is in data pre-processing, clustering, summarization, visualization, and outlier detection.