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Social and Decision Analytics

Democratizing data to serve the public good

We believe in the power of all data — not just "big data" — to provide evidence-based insights that can change the way communities make policy and, ultimately, can improve lives locally. Working closely with government leaders, foundations, and industry, we discover and link many different types of information to create a picture of life on the ground.

Our research begins with our data science framework — a set of theoretical and ethical principles for identifying and collecting data. Along the way, we refine our approach to pull the right information that will get to the crux of the problem at hand.

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Our Team

Solving social challenges requires knowledge and perspectives from across multiple disciplines. Our team includes statisticians, economists, public health experts, mathematicians and social psychologists, all working together to understand how information about populations combines to reveal new truths. We are located in Arlington, Virginia, a stone’s throw from Washington, D.C., and in close proximity to state and federal policymakers.

Our Areas of Focus

Our work is as diverse as the data we use. From the health of a neighborhood, to soldier performance and the very ability of local governments and communities to harness the power of their own data, we focus on three key social challenges.

Tackling community issues such as economic mobility, improving access to food, housing and jobs to advance community health and well-being.

Improving the well-being of citizens across the nation through the health of our national systems from food to defense to technology.

Assessing the use of non-survey data flows to supplement or enhance current development of Official Statistics.

The Science of All Data

At the core of our research is a unique approach to addressing complex problems called, the Science of All Data. There are several facets to our approach from how we partner with stakeholders to what kind of data we use to our framework for actually doing data science, all of which are anchored by a strong bedrock of ethics.

Research Spotlight

A 21st Century Curated Data Enterprise

The Framers of our U.S. Constitution laid the cornerstone for the federal statistical system by requiring a decennial census as the basis for apportioning the House of Representatives. Over the next 233 years, the U.S. Census Bureau’s mission has expanded to serve as the nation’s leading provider of comprehensive, quality data about its people and the economy. To achieve this mission, the Census Bureau has made a steady set of innovations to modernize its data collection and dissemination. For its next innovation, the Census Bureau has partnered with the Biocomplexity Institute to create a Curated Data Enterprise (CDE). The CDE is both an infrastructure and a continuous evolving ambition to empower and enable Census Bureau scientists and their data users to progress from a focus on individual data elements or surveys items to one focused on the purpose and use of the information.

We welcome you to explore this next wave of innovation.

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Data Science for the Public Good

Sallie Keller Headshot
Sallie Keller

Division Director, Social and Decision Analytics

As leaders in data science research, we hold ourselves accountable and push to champion research and public policy on public good issues that will shape a healthy future for communities around the world.

The Forum
Stephanie Shipp
Stephanie Shipp

Deputy Director, Social and Decision Analytics

Our Forum events take the discussion out into the community and to the public at large in an effort to encourage more civic engagement and strategic planning for the good of society.

DSPG Young Scholar displaying poster

Our Data Science for the Public Good internship introduces students to the field of data science in a way that provides experiential learning alongside research mentors to get students interested in civic engagement by focusing on real-world, public good projects.