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R Users from the Government & Public Sector Space Gather for Virtual Conference

The fourth annual Government & Public Sector R Conference brought together data scientists, statisticians, professors, and government officials alike, to a friendly (and safe), virtual environment where speakers and attendees could share their work with the open source community.

Watch every talk from the 2021 Government & Public Sector R Conference here → Lander Analytics YouTube channel

After two incredible years held at Georgetown University (in 2018 and 2019), the “R Gov” conference has gone virtual over the last two years. And while we truly would have loved to be in-person, we were so grateful to have such an insightful group of speakers that made the widescreen feel more like we were back in the halls in Georgetown.

Thank you, speakers! 👏

Pictured above from left to right (Top): Alex Gold, Wendy Martinez, Marck Vaisman, Brook Frye & Ben Witte, Jared P. Lander, Asmae Toumi, Tommy Jones, Jordan Jasuta Fischer (Middle): Aaron Mannes, Mayari Montes de Oca, Cezary Podkul, Sydney Coston, Abhijit Dasgupta, Vivian Peng, Madhava Jay (Bottom): Lauren Lombardo, Jasmine Ye Han, David Shor, Coline Zeballos, Jorge Luna, Surabhi Hodigere, Benjamin Braun, Boriana P. Pratt

In total, 24 speakers had the opportunity to share their work with conference attendees across the three-day event (one day of workshops; two days of main stage). A reminder, you can watch every talk now on the Lander Analytics YouTube Channel!

Here are highlights from a few of our speakers at this year’s event…

Dr. Wendy Martinez returns to R Gov to give us the latest on the role of R at the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics takes in a myriad of different data sources from a variety of different government agencies. It was only until recently that Dr. Martinez’ team was approved for R in production. Beginning in 2015, Dr. Martinez’ team has incorporated R analysis in research more and more every year. In addition to cost, learnability, and scalability, Dr. Martinez describes how R has brought analytical innovation to the bureau.

In her talk, Dr. Martinez breaks down the 10 key principles for using R in Production at the U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistics:

Watch Dr. Wendy Martinez’ talk here →The Journey Continues: Using R at a U.S. Government Agency

David Shor pulls back the curtain behind election forecasting analytics

As a member of the Blue Rose Research team, a group of alumni from the 2021 Obama Analytics team (most commonly known as “The Cave” as David shared with us), David and his team worked with campaigns, party committees, super pacs, and other outside groups to offer election forecasting, resource allocation, predictive modeling, content testing, and attrition ahead of the 2020 election.

David describes three core questions at the heart of election analytics:

  1. What races are close and where should I spend money?

  2. What messaging should I base my campaign on---and what creative works vs. doesn’t?

  3. Which voters should I talk to and how do I reach them?

As David described in his talk, there are several traditional (old-school may be more appropriate here) methods of collecting data that have been proven to be insufficient predictors of an election. David’s team is working on how to bring election analytics to the new-age.

Asmae Toumi applies R to improve substance-use disorder care

Asmae returned to the R conference to tell us more about her experience as the first data scientist at a startup, PursueCare, which focuses on the treatment and care of people who suffer from substance-use disorder. Her team is focused on the opioid crisis, which has taken nearly 500,000 lives from 1999 to 2019. An awful thing.

We were honored to have Asmae talk, to share some of the work of the PursueCare team, and to bring rigorous statistical analysis, modeling, and reporting to the forefront of a problem that affected so many.

Interactive workshops

Our series of virtual workshops were conducted on December 8th, featuring full-day interactive learning opportunities with Alexander Boghosian and Jonathan Hersh, who covered the following topics:

  • Understanding Climate Change Data with Alexandra Boghosian

  • Introduction to Machine Learning for Public Policy with Jonathan Hersh

Bringing the conference inside your home

We recreated as much of the in-person experience as possible with attendee networking sessions, the speaker walk-on songs and fun facts, prize giveaways, an art auction, and trivia. In addition to all of this, each attendee (in the U.S.) will receive by mail conference information, hex stickers, and other swag.

Post-Day 1 Trivia

The 2021 R Gov conference also featured our first ever trivia game! After day one of the conference, attendees got the chance to participate in three rounds of trivia for the following topics: Data Science, All About R, and The Kitchen Sink. It was a ton of fun, and educational! Jon Harmon took first place and received an R Blanket and a $150 gift card for books of his choice at CRC Press. This will be even more fun in person! We can’t wait.

All proceeds from the A(R)T Auction went to the R Foundation, once again!

Our famous A(R)T Auction returns! Featured were pieces by artists in the R Community, and all proceeds were donated to the R Foundation. Highest-selling piece at the auction? {ggplot} plate by Selina Carter. The second highest selling piece? Peace, Love & R by Nicole DelGiudice.

Thank you to our sponsors!

This conference wouldn’t have been the same without all our wonderful sponsors. We appreciate all of you! Thank you RStudio, Georgetown University, R Consortium, PolicyViz, Pearson, Springer, Manning, and Chapman & Hall/CRC.

Shout out to the Lander Analytics Team!

My team worked tirelessly to make this event run as smoothly as possible. Thank you, team! It’s not easy to coordinate a conference, let alone a virtual one. I would be remiss if I did not give a special shout out to Nicole DelGiudice, who leads the planning and execution of our events.

Looking forward to a future in-person!

We really wanted to hold this conference in person. Given the current health and safety climate, and the latest Omicron news, we were happy with our decision to make both the 2021 NYR and R Gov conferences virtual this year. We hope 2022 will be different; for all of our sakes.

Stay safe, and keep learning. We’ll see you next year!

Jared P. Lander

Lander Analytics Chief Data Scientist

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