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Episode 32: Data For Good Regina Chapter – Interview With Kevin Hayes & Scott Wells

Sharday  (00:12):

So before we get in, I’ll give you guys a little bit of intro on data for good, uh, data for good is a group of do-gooders who want to use their powers for good and not evil to help make communities better through data. I’m joined. As I mentioned by Kevin Hayes and Scott Wells, both co-leaders of the chapter in Regina, alongside others, Josh west marina Mosco, and of the host of other volunteers. So essentially their aim is to support, not for profits and charities by unlocking insights that may be lurking within their data assets and ultimately support their strategic planning activities that improve operational efficiencies. So again, Kevin, Scott, thank you both for joining me today, before we dive in maybe a little bit further. Why not? Tell me a little bit about yourself. So, Kevin, I know you’re an active member of the business community in Saskatchewan. I’m curious to know what fires you up to get up every day.

Kevin (01:04):

Yeah, well, that’s a big question. Uh, how to light the fire under this guy? Um, uh, yeah, my name’s, uh, Kevin Hayes, uh, in my non-data for good world. Um, I, uh, am the head of, uh, growth for Conway consulting and, uh, with a big focus on digital. I actually built my first website in 1995 at the tender age of 15. And so I’ve been in the online digital analytics world, um, marketing and advertising world, uh, ever since then, uh, located, uh, I live here in Regina, our head offices in Saskatoon and, um, um, yeah, I’ve lived in this province for five years and love it.

Sharday  (01:42):

Yeah, absolutely. And how did you get involved with data for good?

Kevin (01:47):

So in, I, I hail from Calgary and in Calgary was, uh, we had one of the first chapters of data for good alongside, uh, Toronto. And I was a participant there when we moved or when I moved into Regina, uh, I noticed that one of the things that I could do is, uh, one of the biggest needs that I could contribute to was helping, uh, community-based organizations or CBOs, uh, understand their data better. Uh, so, uh, I started up the chapter here about, uh, four or four and a half years ago and, and Scott quickly, uh, jumped on board almost immediately at that point mm-hmm <affirmative>. And, uh, since then it, uh, we’ve actually engaged almost. I think we have 800 members, uh, that have signed up that have showed interest in, uh, data for good across Saskatchewan alone.

Sharday  (02:36):

I’m not surprised being, uh, involved in the community myself. There’s lots of us. Uh, you know, Scott, please maybe share a little bit more about yourself. What brought you into the fold data for good? It sounds like you jumped in right away when you heard, we opened a chapter in Regina and how has your journey been so far?

Kevin (02:53):

Yeah. Data for good has been absolutely fantastic. What really drove me to join. I’ve been in the data community

Scott (02:58):

For about 15 years now, kind of as an analyst and then, uh, more recently as a leader across multiple different, uh, industries. And so the data side of things is a lot of fun for me and being able to volunteer and help other folks in, in that way, I came to the first meet up and Kevin and I hit it off right away, kind of had same kind of goals for this. And so being able to work on different projects is fantastic. Meeting folks in the community has been amazing, uh, being able to help and mentor some of the other folks is, uh, you know, like you said, what gets me up in the morning is to kind of help the data community within reg and, and largely in Saskatchewan is a lot of fun.

Sharday  (03:35):

I love that. And I feel like there is a strong community in both Regina and Saskatoon. And from my understanding, there is a potential chapter brewing, uh, here, SAS in Saskatoon, where is where I’m located as well. So, uh, since then it seems as if, uh, a few locations have S sprouted their own chapters. Like I mentioned Regina, but in, uh, 2018, actually in our first season of the podcast, we were fortunate enough to interview the co-founder of data for good. So joy Robinson out of Toronto, and she had a lot of really great things about the stuff that we were doing in central Canada. So, you know, that was many moons ago. I’m not surprised that we’re doing the work that we’re doing here, but, you know, Kevin Scott feel free to bring me up to speed. You know, uh, now that I’ve jumped into a brief about the intro for data for good, maybe perhaps in your own words, explain to like I’m six year and you have super powers. What is ultimately data for good

Kevin (04:32):

Well, data for good is about really helping the, uh, charitable nonprofit sector, uh, fulfill their mission by understanding data better. And, you know, one of the, the, one of the most exciting things about our chapter and Regina is our volunteers and how excited and passionate they are about, uh, volunteering and doing work, you know, data for good is, is unique in the sense that, um, almost all of our volunteers, uh, are community minded and they want to give back, but they also really love data. And so there’s a lot of volunteering opportunities out there, but, uh, you know, these folks, they do data at their day job. And then at night they’re building, you know, Python programs to measure heat, um, temperatures and grain bins, and they’re doing all these interesting, really neat stuff. And so, you know, we are very fortunate in Saskatchewan to not just have a group of volunteers, but have a group of volunteers that’s really focused on the community and is really, really, um, uh, passionate about data, whether they’re just entering the data field or whether they’re some of the top, uh, top of their field here in Saskatchewan.

Kevin (05:50):

And so since we last spoke our first, uh, meetup or gathering of data for good, my, my, my goal was just to have one other person come to our meetup other than me. So we could have at least two people. And that has turned from, uh, you know, a meeting, which ended up housing about 50 people who were interested in data for good and a meetup group of 50 people now to a meetup group in Regina that has, uh, almost 700 people, a meetup group in Saskatoon that has, uh, about a hundred people and really, um, removing all the boundaries, um, in Saskatchewan to do work for charitable, uh, and nonprofit groups, uh, because we can all come together online and in person.

Sharday  (06:38):

So this sounds like, again, it it’s people that love data. Um, I assume there are many types of volunteers. What is the typical person that joins, if any?

Scott (06:51):

Yeah, so it, it’s kind of a mix across the board. I mean, really when we have our meetups and we’re looking for folks, we basically say anyone that’s interested in any way, shape or form. Sure. You’re gonna get some folks that are new to data and they wanna learn. And that’s great. We love that. We love mentoring. We love helping them out. And regardless of where their journey is, we’ve got some folks that, um, you know, we either reach out to, or jump on board that are very technically gifted. And so they’re your data scientists, they’re your, you know, senior data analyst and they love to do this kind of work. And so that’s great. We’ve got other folks that have joined on board just to do things like, uh, project management. We need help with that as well. Some of these are larger projects. And so we are looking for a lot of different skills. We’ve got someone that does communication for us. And so again, it’s a mix across the board and pretty much anyone that’s interested in wanting to learn, um, there is a space for

Sharday  (07:39):

Them. That’s cool. I assume there are many different types of projects that have come across your guys’ table. Uh, in Saskatchewan. It may even be a bit more unique in terms of the types of clients we serve. You mentioned a really interesting, uh, topic about even, uh, heat within, uh, grain bins. Um, you know, we’re talking insider baseball to some degree in Saskatchewan, but I can only imagine there are so many types of, of volunteerism you’re, you’re involved in. Uh, I’m curious what that looks like and what type of clients may come to you guys.

Kevin (08:11):

So we really have, um, one piece of criteria that, um, uh, that we, we assess, um, which is, are you an organization that’s doing good for people or the environment and, and a nonprofit. And if that’s, uh, the case and you have an interest in data, then that’s the starting point for the conversation. And so you could be a one person nonprofit, uh, or you could be a, a larger nonprofit, um, that does have da some data maturity. Uh, so as an example, we’ve, we’ve literally worked with, um, nonprofits that have come to us with stacks of paper and said, this is the data we have, what can we do with it? And then we’ve worked with organizations like the Regina food bank who have data, and they have some structures and infrastructure already, and they say, Hey, how do we, how do we work with, um, what can we do with our data and where do we move forward?

Kevin (09:07):

So our, uh, there are some components and characteristics of organizations that, um, are important. So, you know, we look at identifying business problems. Uh, there has to be a question for the data to answer. You know, it often helps if there’s somebody inside the organization who is kind of the, who could be a champion for the data, right. They don’t have to be proficient or anything, but, um, you know, somebody that we can work with. So there are some kind of things that make our relationship work better together, but we’ve worked with, uh, childhood organizations, um, pro bono loss, Saskatchewan, uh, Sophia house. There really is no, um, kind of, uh, specific sector within the, um, people helping, uh, um, framework that, that we pick on or that come to us. I should say, everybody seems to kind of wanna reach out because the appeal of doing free data work, uh, with awesome data, people is very attractive for anybody. So, um, yeah, we, we have a lot of success there. I don’t know if you wanna add to that, Scott?

Scott (10:12):

No. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s pretty much any organization that wants to reach out as we get out there more in the community, we’ve been involved with a number of different groups, um, that story spreads. And so we see other folks kind of jumping in and then we’ve even got, uh, groups like, or areas the city of Regina is saying, Hey, these folks are doing some work. You may want to ask them for help. And so we’ve had a number of other organizations jump in there. And so, I mean, as Kevin said, the story spreads pretty fast with free data work with awesome people. And, uh, it’s been a pleasure to work with everyone we’ve had the opportunity to work with.

Sharday  (10:45):

Yeah. That that’s so true. And this may a question for you both and, and kind looking at, uh, the landscape of what we’ve been dealing with. So the, the changes within business is brought on by, you know, a world pandemic and, and kind of dealing with a lot of the, the, the decisions that have been coming from it. Do you feel as if maybe the type is work, the type of work that you’ve been involved with has changed at all due to, you know, some of the shifts within business, and if so, uh, what does that look like?

Scott (11:16):

Yeah, so that’s interesting. I would say at a very, very high level, the type of work we’re doing, hasn’t really changed the focus for some of thesei organizations may have changed. And so, you know, in terms of funding, as a, as an example, I think everyone knows that the funding pot, uh, globally has changed quite a bit. And so organizations are really having to play catch up if they don’t have access to their data to really, truly understand and tell their story. And so I think there’s really been kind of two key pieces that have really changed in the last, I would say even six months, the organizations that have really come to us are saying, okay, we know that the granting process may be changing or the pot of money may be changing. How do we really start to showcase our story and tell the value that we’re providing?

Scott (11:59):

Um, a lot of organizations have really been used to kind of their typical board reporting, which is here are the inputs that we’ve done. We’ve helped this many people, or these, this many people have come through the doors, but what does that really mean? What’s the, so what, and so that’s really where they’re starting to look into, okay, well, we have this type of data, what do we need to capture differently, or to, where can we go to get some of those outcomes and some of that other information. So largely again, I think the work that we’re doing and the way that we’re engaging in what we help with stays the same. It’s really just from the organization’s perspective, they’re looking to answer different questions, uh, than they were before. Totally.

Kevin (12:38):

Yeah. Did you have any, just to add on top of that? Um, so the, there seems to be, um, a maturity that’s happening within the sector and within the understanding of data altogether. So as Scott was talking about, um, um, organizations are, are starting to understand better that it’s not the data. That is the key thing. It’s the story that the data tells and telling that story, uh, is becoming a more and more important piece and, and is becoming more, um, relevant and apparent to, uh, charities and nonprofits and trying to help connect the dots between, uh, work that’s being done and, and funding requests and potentially gaps in, in, uh, resources. And that additionally brings forward a, a bit of maturity around understanding how an organization grows into their data path, so to speak technical term, their data pants, um, that means, you know, organizations are looking at, do we have resources?

Kevin (13:46):

Uh, what would that look like? Do we even collect the right data? Are we even asking the right questions to, um, leverage data, you know, back in the day, like three years ago would be uncommon or not uncommon, and even not uncommon today for people just to build just bunches of dashboards and just say, well, once we got all these dashboards, then we’ll find, we’ll find some question and some answer. And I think, um, organizations are becoming more wise around that, um, approach may not be as useful. And that certainly approach we take at data for good is around how do we, how do we just get more use out of your information? How do we set up an organization to actually, uh, make good use of their data with the resources that they have, and then what are some potential resources in the future that they could look at adapting that, uh, would be reasonable, uh, and relevant to the organization as it’s, as it sits. So there’s, there’s, you know, if, if we’re in the kind of, um, you know, uh, newborn baby stage of data, you know, like five years ago, maybe now we’re in the, in the toddler stage a

Scott (14:50):

Little bit, you know, we’re, we’re kind of growing and we’re, we’re moving along.

Sharday  (14:55):

Yeah. I really, I can almost say that perhaps data democracy is here and often gone are the days of when using internal data was considered a bit of an afterthought. I feel even, uh, ourselves, um, you know, organizations we’re seeing within being an insights firm that, uh, you know, organizations are starting to embrace analytics as a key business driver. And it’s not to say they weren’t before. They’re really just learning how to, to pull in this primary data and maybe leverage multiple data sources using other internal systems. The problem with that is, is we’re finding a lot of clients end up accruing a vast amount of data, and it’s often leaving the amateur sleuth quite bogged down, me included. Um, you know, this question may be for Scott. So in your experience, how are organizations combining, you know, in-house primary data with more external secondary data for business incomes? Is it technology? Is it human driven? I know Kevin largely touched on it, the last question there, but I wouldn’t mind us expanding on it a little bit more.

Scott (15:58):

Yeah. Uh, I guess short answer is normally very poorly <laugh>. So across most of my experience, uh, you know, primary data, most organizations aren’t even great at that. Um, there is a divide between the organizations and it’s typically tech focused, uh, organizations that are doing it a little bit better for primary. Um, especially as it gets into some of the marketing sales type of information, um, as you get into operational type data, it’s normally fairly poor, uh, and then bringing in third party or other external data, uh, it’s normally a struggle. And so it is a mix of probably all of the people, processes and technology. I think in the past, you know, you could get away with downloading some of your information from your source system into Excel file and doing something with it, uh, garner those days in a lot of cases when you’ve got a lot of cloud technology that you’ve gotta integrate.

Scott (16:50):

And so it’s, on-prem, it’s in the cloud and you’ve gotta have different ways to actually interact with that. So unfortunately that means there is a technology solution in some way, shape or form. Now you can get around with that, around that with some really, um, skilled individuals, but at the end of the day, there is a play for technology. And so you’ve gotta have the right infrastructure in order to make, to make that happen along with the right people. So what’s really interesting about that is in the work that we do for data for good, most organizations have little to know infrastructure as it relates to data, and nobody on staff, the good news is we go in from a data for good perspective, and there are lots of tools out there that are free or open source, or at least usable for a lot of these organizations.

Scott (17:34):

Um, and that’s really our goal is to provide them something that they can continue on with not have to go for massive amounts of funding and leverage what is out there and available. And so a lot of these organizations, uh, will be able to be self-sufficient from there. Um, or in some cases they’re actually looking to put funding proposals forward to have a data person on staff to continue on with some of this work, which is fantastic. But to get back to your question around, you know, third party data, I think anyone that’s been involved with data, you look at sites like stats, Canada, and it’s fantastic that there’s open data like that available. Um, but there is a divide in terms of skillset. So not everyone can go there and use it appropriately. And then when it refreshes or otherwise, how do they actually continue to bring that in?

Scott (18:17):

And so it continues to be a manual challenge for a lot of these organizations and groups. And so really having the ability to automate some of this stuff is really where the power comes in. I think what I hear from a lot of organizations is 80% of their time is spent on gathering data, cleaning it, not even using it. And really the value of the data then is wasted in the sense of you’re just gap capturing more and more data, but not really doing anything with it. And so really that needs to change. And some of those things, again, it’s technology, but it’s also people related and, and education for a lot of folks on how they use it, cuz to your point, the goal of all of this data is to get it into the hands of decision makers and actually action. Something, not just to have it as an FYI, there, there’s no point if you know, whether it’s in, uh, my regular work or data for good. If we’re just giving fancy dashboards to folks for them to look at and go, Hmm, that’s interesting. Mm-hmm <affirmative> we failed mm-hmm <affirmative> the goal at the end of the day is really to drive different business outcomes or at least have some sort of actions come out of it.

Sharday  (19:15):

Yeah. I, I couldn’t agree more. And what I’m hearing is that technology is playing a super important role in really learning how to leverage the, these multiple data sources.

Scott (19:26):


Sharday  (19:27):

Yeah. So to bring us back a little bit into the fold, we, we were kind of discussing about Saskatchewan and some of the organizations that you, you guys have worked with in the past few years. And one thing that I have noticed myself is that, uh, even within data assets, uh, and we talked about it even with statistics, Canada, is that in Saskatchewan, our population tends to be a lot more spread out than other parts in Canada, especially the east. And as a result, there’s a bit of a lack of diversity and sample and then collecting primary data can be a bit challenging when the population is a bit sparer. So my question is, is how is the Regina chapter assisting organizations in collecting data on hard to reach segments for our case it’s it’s merely Saskatchewan residents.

Scott (20:16):

Yeah, so we’re doing that in a couple of different ways. And, and the first way I would say is, as we’re engaging with organizations, um, we’re helping them understand different collection methods that they can do on their own. And so it may be as simple as, you know, Google forms or something else like that, that they could actually leverage and start to capture depending on who their audience is. And there’s lots of different tools out there and just kind of the methodology to do it as opposed to, you know, the traditional way that they’re doing it. Um, through some of our other work we’ve been engaged, uh, in kind of pulled into some of the provincial work that’s going on. I think through COVID one of the biggest, uh, questions that we heard around Saskatchewan was, you know, what’s the impact to different locations. And like you said, we’ve got a really spread out province as you start going further and further north the impacts of some of these, uh, changes or what’s going on with hits even harder.

Scott (21:04):

Uh, some of the more rural locations it’s hit harder, but a lot of it is anecdotal or they’re grouped together kind of in geographic regions, which doesn’t really help. And so one of the projects we’re actually working on right now, uh, with a couple of different organizations is around cost of living and seeing if we can get that to more hyper local and, uh, with more real time data. And so that is the challenge. I mean, there really isn’t primary data sources for that. And so we’re having to be a little bit creative. And so whether that’s scraping information off of, uh, you know, Facebook’s marketplace for housing or taking look and partnering with different organizations that typically you wouldn’t, so it could be, uh, food banks or local, um, services that are providing other food services. How do we start to build that network network of information and get that that out there, but at the end of the day, um, it really is about starting to partner with different organization, understand kind of what’s out there.

Scott (21:59):

And we’re really lucky on, on this project specifically, we’ve actually got some of the, the folks from Saskatoon that have been working on cost of living, uh, previously. And so again, it’s getting the word out there, the work that we’re doing and other folks are excited to jump on board. And so we’ve got lots of different skills, whether it’s from academia or otherwise, that really help supplement our skillset. Um, a lot of the folks that we’ve got are maybe primarily data analysts and so they don’t have the same, uh, methodology background. And so it’s great to pull in all of these other folks. And so, uh, really excited. We’re really kind of on the beginning end of, of this project, but towards kind of beginning of the summer, we should have at least one of those domains and kind of data available for probably housing across the province for different sectors to see how that’s been changing with the goal of probably this fall later on kind of by the end of the calendar, or hopefully having, uh, at least a view of cost of living across the province that other folks can understand, um, at a more frequent basis what’s actually going on for their community.

Sharday  (23:04):

That’s wonderful. I, I absolutely look forward to seeing what is the outcome of this project and feel free to share with us. And, and, and perhaps there’s a, an opportunity to expand on that on another episode that that’s really great work. I, you know, I assume, uh, you know, that’s an example of those who are trying their best to centralize the collection of you. You have this really incredibly rich in-house data, and you’re combining it with external sources for better governance. So, you know, these mass amounts of data of raw data are often produced, uh, you know, within not-for-profits, within non-governmental organizations, but also local government. And it’s usually that the data can be connected by more than one systems in terms of a, a governance in Saskatchewan. We’re quite unique in that, uh, our, our governments have crown agencies and we can often deal with everything from utilities to social services, to, to traffic cameras.

Sharday  (24:01):

But despite all of this data, um, you know, municipalities are still struggling with making their data proactive as we’ve been talking about. And it’s very challenging for local leaders to sort through all this raw information and look to make these informed decisions. I love this, uh, example that you gave Scott, where, you know, you, you can peel out as many dashboards as you want, and you can try to look for, uh, the answer to your question, but often that’s not usually the case. So my question is, is, you know, these non-governmental, but also governmental organizations, they’re, they’re really looking for ways or smart ways of collecting of cleaning, of filtering, of analyzing their vast amounts of data. So, in your experience, what are leaders in Saskatchewan looking to do to optimize their work and maybe improve, uh, you know, matters of the public sector, uh, through the use of their data?

Scott (24:53):

Yeah, there, there’s quite a few different things and it’s kind of all hitting ahead right now in terms of, uh, different organizations are all trying to come together. And so one, uh, one area that we’ve been involved in very recently, so Regina has the community safety and wellbeing plan, um, that the city and the city counselors have kind of put out recently. And so the goal of that is really to improve kind of safety wellbeing in a number of different dimensions, uh, across the city. And so they’ve started to form what they’re calling, uh, community action tables and really what those, the goals are. So say housing or food insecurity, domestic violence, uh, there are seven different groups that they’re looking at. And so what the goal is really to get community and other involved and start to take a look at some of those big meaty problems, figure out what those biggest problems are and start to actually start to action.

Scott (25:40):

It. Now, one of the challenges, and one of the reasons that we are brought in is in a lot of cases, the data’s not available if it is available, it’s in one pocket, you know, over here in this organization, over here in that organization. And so I think, and, you know, I credit the city and city counselors and, uh, mayor masters. Who’s been championing this with really having the foresight to understand the only way we’re truly gonna impact change is by bringing together some of this information. And so that’s a great first step is really just understanding that there is a gap and a need in what we need to do. Uh, it’s not gonna be easy in any way, shape or form. I mean, there’s a lot of hurdles to jump through, but none of them are insurmountable, uh, where data for good has really been able to kind of jump in is, is almost be that, uh, that hub in the middle.

Scott (26:24):

So we’ve worked with a lot of organizations and one great example would be two on one. So two on one provides, uh, information for residents for really anyone you can go on their website, you can, you can call them and it tells you what type of services are available, what the organizations are. If you’re looking for, you know, any type of service, whether it’s mental health, food, housing, otherwise they have an extremely rich data set of where people, uh, are what they’re looking for, what’s going on. But a lot of other organizations don’t have access to that. And so having been kind of on the other side, helping two on one, set some of this information up and getting them using it, you know, we’re having the conversations with the city, we’re having a conversation with other organizations saying, you know what? It would be great if you could start to pull some of this information in and start doing that.

Scott (27:09):

And so, um, you know, really back to your question, what are the municipalities or government or otherwise doing? I think we’re really in our infancy in terms of really starting to action it, but it’s getting folks to the table, having the conversations and starting to actually connect them and then starting to figure out how do we leverage the information that’s already available? Cause like you said, there’s tons of information available. It’s just, how do we effectively bring that together so that the right folks can use it? Cuz if you just have one data source, it really is fairly limited. But once you start adding on really what’s going on with the community or what’s going on with all of these other domains, it really starts to paint the picture and you can really start actioning some of those things.

Sharday  (27:53):

So when it comes to policy making often there’s definitive advantages in being able to understand what is happening across government, by simply listening to what citizens are saying, how is we, we’ve been talking about the city of Regina, which I think is a fantastic example of doing this, but how perhaps are they benefiting from being more open with their data?

Scott (28:16):

Yeah. So I guess really the biggest piece of that, as soon as you start being transparent with your data and obviously not everything is being shared, you you’ve gotta make sure that privacy and security and all of those other things, if there is personal information that’s in there, um, has either been anonymized or, or otherwise. And so just having the conversations, bringing some of that information to the table when we’ve had, uh, what they’re calling summits, which is really bringing a whole bunch of the community organizations together, bringing, uh, people with lived experience together and having conversations about it. People are truly starting to understand what’s going on and they can have the right conversations. Whereas I think previously in the past, what you’re gonna see is that folks were maybe having the wrong conversations cuz they weren’t truly informed. And so it was from one perspective or another, whereas you get everyone in there with all of their different perspectives, their, you know, lived experience plus the information on top of it.

Scott (29:05):

You’re starting to go, okay, we truly see the picture we see what’s actually going on. And then as you go from the policy side of things, you can go, we can enact something in order to change it, but until they do that and you know, we touched on earlier, it’s not just the data, it’s not just the story. It’s the mix of both folks need to hear truly what’s going on from people, but then also decision makers need to know how big is the actual problem, what is actually going on with the problem in order to make a decision. And so I think that’s really what they’re starting to bring together.

Sharday  (29:34):

Interesting. One of the, did you have anything to, sorry?

Kevin (29:38):

Oh, sorry. Yeah. One of the, um, really kind of key pieces when it comes to, um, using data and, and making, um, uh, having decisions, actionable decisions informed by, by useful information is, is really when it comes down to leadership and there’s a lot of information out there. Uh, but somebody really has to drive the bus. And in many cases that’s, uh, organizational leadership. Um, the city is, uh, taking a significant leadership role, uh, in trying to bring the community together to have discussions around, um, you know, what are the biggest issues we have to pay attention to. And is there a role for data to support that or, or what does that look like? But we see over, um, multiple summits with the city, uh, and uh, sector organizations. Uh, there are a lot of common challenges and those challenges are, um, uh, a collective approach to information gathering and sharing and then also giant concerns around privacy and, uh, and rightfully so.

Kevin (30:45):

And when you have really sensitive, uh, information around, um, you know, um, domestic violence or, uh, substance abuse or food insecurity, um, you know, these, uh, CBOs are, are really concerned about, uh, their clients and the people they serve and, and rightfully so. So in order to, um, kind of bridge that gap and build trust, uh, we really need to have, uh, leadership around, uh, people who are, are willing to have the conversations move forward one inch at a time sometimes. And, um, uh, help understand how to navigate this, this actually fairly common, um, environment, which is how do we do best? What is best information to collect? How do we share it all in an efficient way? How do we make sure that we set up some kind of system and framework that allows us to take action? So we’re not just talking again and again and again about issues and that type of movement.

Kevin (31:41):

Um, uh, that type of progress in, in kind of any field comes down to, uh, leaders buying into, uh, the value of information and using that information to make decisions. And sometimes with information actually all the times with information comes out, uh, a lack of information. And so you really, um, we’ve noticed with the organizations that we work with, it’s when the senior leadership is bought into, um, data that’s that’s when things happen and, uh, a D a data democracy was an excellent term that you used earlier. You know, it’s a bit of a state that we’re all trying to get to. Um, but we’re, you know, we’re crawling along and, uh, we need some kind of first to market people to, uh, take more steps, uh, to show how this can work and how, how it has worked in other markets. And it, it can work in Saskatchewan too.

Sharday  (32:34):

Do you find that the Regina chapter in Saskatchewan is unique in comparison to other chapters just based off of everything you kind of said there, Kevin?

Kevin (32:45):

Well, I mean, I don’t know how to come across, not biased, uh, but

Sharday  (32:51):

We’re all friends here

Kevin (32:52):

<laugh> I, there are, um, it, it’s quite an interesting, um, viewpoint, uh, the Saskatchewan chapter, because there’s, there’s a lot of about Saskatchewan’s culture that makes our chapter good. And we’re, we do a lot of work in Saskatchewan. We do Calgary. Uh, the Calgary chapter also does a whole boatload of work as well. Uh, but we do a lot of work. We have a lot of engaged, uh, volunteers, more so than some other chapters. And the reasons for that are a couple of things. Uh, one is the, um, CBOs in Saskatchewan, uh, are looking to, to, uh, work with organizations like us. And so, uh, there’s a lot of trust, uh, between data for good and these organizations. And, uh, of course we have people like Scott who’s, you know, has a background in health. And so really understands privacy very well. We have a lot of top tier, a high level, very experienced digital, or sorry, data people on our team.

Kevin (34:00):

So we can bring a lot of, you know, experience, but, you know, ultimately the CBOs have to wanna work with us and have to wanna trust us. And that is, uh, a, a trademark of, uh, Saskatchewan, uh, nonprofits that isn’t always, um, uh, relevant or isn’t always, um, available in, in other provinces. Um, so that’s one, one key piece. And, uh, the second is we have, um, a pretty active leadership team at data for good here in Regina. So we, you know, there’s four of us, plus, you know, we, Cody running our meetups and Heidi doing our communications. We have a, a fairly active, um, a leadership team, uh, that does a lot of, uh, work. I’m sure we could do this actually full time if, uh, we chose, sometimes we do do this full time. I inclusion, including our other, uh, work. And, and then I guess the last piece, in addition to an openness to work with us and a strong leadership team is our volunteer base is they are, they are really wanting to get engaged. They’re really active. They’re really, uh, smart. They we’ve got, you know, junior or seniors. We’ve got people who wanna mentor people who wanna be mentees. Um, the volunteer base here is, is very impressive and we are, I feel sometimes in a very luxurious position to have so many people who wanna do, uh, so much, uh, work with data for good. It’s, it’s really a win-win for kinda everybody who’s involved with data for good.

Sharday  (35:27):

Absolutely. I think again, and, and not to be biased, but there really is that charm in Saskatchewan where often, you know, we, we look like a, a, a much larger monster than we need to be, but I think it is truly due to, to passion. A lot of us are really passionate in our work. And I can tell that, uh, even speaking with two gentlemen today, how, you know, how passionate you guys have been for this, uh, association for so many years. And I’m, I’m really looking forward to kind of seeing, especially post pandemic, uh, some of the work that you guys are doing. And maybe to us, uh, back into, to that a little bit, uh, you know, Kevin, maybe we’ll just keep on this. What, what can other organizations maybe take away, you know, from their approaches that you’re taking with, say with the city of Regina with, with the Regina food bank, if they’re looking to advance on their da data capabilities, uh, but don’t really have a direction in terms of where to go.

Kevin (36:20):

Yeah. So there’s, uh, one of the reasons data for good has been able to grow and get our name out there and build our reputation is because we are, um, consistently active in the community. And so we have meetups every month. We always generally have one or two projects on the go. Um, we, uh, participate in as much as we possibly can and to ultimately be of service to the community. Uh, although Scott and Scott, myself marina and Josh are the co leads, this is really a community based organization and, uh, really an organization that, um, is run by the community and how the community, uh, sees fits to use data for good is how we, uh, govern ourselves. So the, a lot of activity happens, um, uh, which, which just inherently makes the community more aware of us. And because of that activity, the second piece is, uh, raising the data literacy in Saskatchewan.

Kevin (37:24):

That is one of our, our big goals. And one of the things we always try to do. And so whether it’s working with a, uh, charity or nonprofit of one or a hundred people, and just trying to help raise their, uh, data literacy level, or if it’s, we’re running meetups, where we bring in the rough riders to talk about how they make decisions, uh, in football, based on data, everything has the, uh, spirit of being of service, uh, through data to raise the data literacy level in all people in Saskatchewan, whether it’s organizations or the people. And I think that approach, um, has that, that works for us. And I guess maybe the third thing is, uh, we are, um, we’re a hundred percent, um, volunteer based. And so we are not anchored onto any particular funding source, um, or any particular organization or any particular, um, anything.

Kevin (38:23):

So we’re a fairly neutral ground. And I think that in this province, um, adds a little bit of trustworthiness to us and all of the chapters across all of Canada, nobody takes money charges, everything is a hundred percent volunteer, so we’re not unique here. Uh, but I find particularly, uh, in this province, the most common, uh, one common question I get and Scott gets this as well is okay, so seriously, what’s the catch like, so you’re gonna bring all, you know, all these data people you’re gonna do all this data work. And, and so, but what’s in it for you. And the answer is, is, yeah, we’ll do it all for free. And we, the, the, the kind of spiritual payment I guess, is, is our payment, but in other, um, provinces, that answer doesn’t fly and that is, there’s not a trustworthy, that’s like, nah, there’s gotta be something else to it. And so, uh, I think us being a, um, kind of a neutral third party piece that is accepted very quickly, and that just allows kind of a lot of more barriers to come down, um, and a lot more kind of work to be, be completed. Um, uh, because of the lack of allegiance to any particular line of thinking or anything other than being of service to, uh, CBOs

Sharday  (39:40):

Having those first and second degree connections and Saskatchewan are often beneficial. I think even past a networking event, I think this is a really key example where you have a bunch of like-minded individuals coming together and really supporting, you know, the services that I, and, and even yourself use every day. And I think there’s truly something special about that. I’ve always as a marketer who works for an insights agency firm, I’ve always looked at market research, um, in a way where we’re information gatekeepers and often ourselves, it’s, it’s a bit of an inherent duty to be sharing, you know, information, especially in the era of information, in a way that’s easy to understand that’s digestible, but that, that has value and is important. So, uh, I guess I thank you for the work that you guys, uh, are doing at data for good. I, I know even as a Saskatchewan resident, I’m, I’m sure I will benefit from the work you guys are doing. So, you know, in effort to, to wrap up our conversation, I, this was just such good information about, uh, data for good. I’m sure we have a couple of people who are listening and they’re thinking, oh man, I would love to, to see what these guys are about. So how do others get involved with the Regina chapter if they’re interested?

Kevin (40:53):

So you can do, uh, you can get a, um, involved with data for good and Regina in a few different ways. Uh, one is I can go to for good dot that’s our website. So data for with Regina at the beginning. Um, uh, that’s where a lot of our information is housed. Uh, I would highly recommend you join our meetup group, and if you’re not familiar with meetup, uh, just Google data for good Regina meetup and, um, or data for good Saskatoon meetup and you’ll, uh, come to our meetup page and, and just sign up there. Uh, that’s a, a good approach. Um, and then, uh, through the website, um, we have volunteer forms. You can fill out if you want to be a volunteer, if you’re a charity or a nonprofit, and you want to work with us, then there’s a form on there as well.

Kevin (41:41):

There’s also just a general, if you don’t fit into any of those categories, but you wanna stay in the loop of what’s happening, you can submit your email there. So, um, you know, you can also email me Kevin dot Hayes data for or Scott Wells data for If you wanna reach out to us directly, we’re on Twitter and Instagram and YouTube and, and slide share as well. So, uh, we’re easy to get a hold of. Um, but I, I think one of the key key components of getting together or getting involved with data for good is, is just the desire to, to want to be involved with us, whether you’re a charity or nonprofit, no matter how advanced or UN advanced you are, uh, when it comes to data or you are a volunteer, no matter how sophisticated or, you know, uh, at the start of the journey you are when it comes to data, all is cool. So, uh, we wanna work with everybody. We wanna be as inclusive, uh, as possible. Um, so if you’re, if you’re interested in what we got, then, uh, get ahold of us and, and we’ll be happy to talk to you.

Sharday  (42:41):

Awesome. That sounds great. I I’ll definitely be looking into it myself. I know I’m looking forward to your upcoming summer meet up. Uh, we actually, even ourselves are presenting at one of them in June 28th, at 7:00 PM. So feel free to join us for one of your first membership, uh, meet up meetings again, that’s June 28th. I think that’ll be the, the day that this podcast launches. So tonight at seven, but, uh, I thank you both for joining us today. I will definitely plug some information below on the bottom of the website. We’ll have all of data for goods channels so that you guys can connect with them. Send ’em an email drop. ’em a line on Twitter connect with Kevin and or Scott on LinkedIn. I’m sure they’ll, they’ll send you a hello. So again, thank you both for joining me. And if you had any final thoughts, I I’ll leave the floor to you.

Scott (43:27):

Thanks for having us. Uh, you know what, again, the opportunity just to kind of chat about what we’re doing and get out there. I think every single time we go out there, another person hears about what’s going on and we get the opportunity to work with, uh, another organization or otherwise. And I think that really to us is, is the big benefit in our volunteer base. Every time we get a new project that comes through, it’s something a little bit different, uh, different people are engaged or interested in different types of organizations. So it’s always just, uh, fantastic. See kind of what’s going on and help out the province.

Kevin (43:58):

Yeah, likewise and, uh, love and Citrix and the, the barometer. Can’t wait for you to present to us. Uh, I love all the work that you guys always put out publicly and feel grateful for that. So thanks for doing that for Saskatchewan and wherever, and also thanks for, uh, letting us shoot the breeze about, uh, data for good. As you tell, this podcast could go 18 more appreciate time. Thanks. We appreciate the time.

Sharday  (44:24):

No worries. I foresee a potential episode in the future. Really kind of diving into some of the case study work. You guys do. We’d love to hear more vice versa and the Saskatchewan, you know, thank you for the work that you guys are doing and yeah, we’ll connect really soon. Thanks guys.

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