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Data Viz Challenge Highlights Power of Data Science Community in MSP

Posted by Zach Jenson & Amanda Taylor on Thursday, July 30, 2020

The future of work is here. New technologies are emerging that require new skills and qualifications. There are jobs that exist now that did not five years ago.  There is no better example than the recent emergence of skills in data science. Along with artificial intelligence and machine learning, demand for talent with skills and experience in these emerging technologies is skyrocketing globally. According to LinkedIn, Data Scientist is the #3 emerging job of 2020 in the U.S., topping the list for three years running. Skills unique to the job include machine learning, data science, Python, R, and Apache Spark. Top industries hiring this talent include Information Technology & Services, Computer Software, Internet, Financial Services, and Higher Education. To see LinkedIn’s full report go here.

Data Scientists analyze data for actionable insights and have the skills needed to know how to extract meaning from and interpret data, requiring knowledge and experience in statistics and machine learning. According to LinkedIn, there are over 8,500 professionals in the Greater MSP region with skills in data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, a 44% increase from one year ago. Leading employers of professionals with these skills include the University of Minnesota, Target, UnitedHealth Group, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, 3M, and Optum.

The GREATER MSP research and intelligence team analyzes data for actionable insights in our daily work. To understand how fundamental data science is to the work of GREATER MSP, one need only look at the Regional Indicators Dashboard, a tool that allows us to track regional data on our economic growth, our educational attainment, our racial inclusivity, and much more. This annually-updated dashboard is essential in guiding the decisions of our partners throughout the region. In fact, we've found that presenting data in clear, understandable ways like this is more important than ever – small businesses, startups, and Fortune 500 companies are all demanding this kind of information in increasing numbers.

To better connect with this growing professional community and better convey the needs of our region as a whole, we partnered with the Twin Cities Data Visualization Group this year for the first-ever MSP Data Viz Challenge. By combining the skills of this group with the rich pool of data that the Partnership has cultivated building the Regional Indicators Dashboard, our goal was to harness the power of data science to tell our region's story more effectively. The Twin Cities Data Visualization Group has over 3,000 members and kicked off the challenge with us in March of this year.

The goal of the challenge was to take five years of dashboard data collected by GREATER MSP and present it in new and actionable ways to a broad audience. Teams were challenged to build an interactive data visualization that would help users find key insights in the indicators by highlighting trends and driving attention to areas of opportunity. Submissions were judged on their effective and clear communication of message, ease of functionality, overall presentation, method of delivery, and ability to be updated.

We're pleased to announce that the winning team of the Data Viz Challenge was Jeremy Brezovan, Megan Menth, and David Treiber. You can see their winning submission below. Honorable mention goes to Nick Bovee-Gazett and Daniel Hauge in second-place and Tripp Parker, Nick Ryberg, and Erik Sua in third-place.

This was a great experience and we value the time and attention of participating teams on this work. A special thank you to the Twin Cities Data Viz Group organizers for working with us on the challenge. Another big thanks to our expert judging panel, B Kyle, President/CEO of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Allison Liuzzi, Project Director of Minnesota Compass at Wilder Research, and Eric Muschler, Program Officer for the McKnight Foundation’s Vibrant & Equitable Communities program. Our judges have been intimately involved in the creation and upkeep of the Regional Indicators Dashboard and understand the power and opportunity of analyzing this data to drive action in the region.

GREATER MSP is grateful for the time and attention team’s devoted to this project. This opportunity to partner with the Twin Cities Data Viz Group allowed us to work alongside talented data science professional talent in our region, and to share more about the work of the Partnership. The Regional Indicators Dashboard is an important tool for our partners to track the economic, social, and environmental health of our region. The work of GREATER MSP is more important than ever as we are faced with the complex challenges of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the imperative of undoing racial injustices in our region and rebuilding in our most diverse communities. The work completed on the challenge will help GREATER MSP as we consider new methods of analyzing, interpreting, and sharing this important data with leaders in the region.

Ensuring that we have a rich talent pool in the areas of data science and visualization is essential to our region's competitiveness and the future of work as a whole. If you're interested in getting plugged into the exciting and rapidly-growing data science community in our region, consider checking out these organizations: