NSF Convergence Accelerator Phase 1 Selected Work
In September 2019, MGGG Redistricting Lab received a $962,177 grant (OIA-1937095) from the National Science Foundation’s pilot Convergence Accelerator program. The project, entitled Harnessing the Data Revolution: Network Science of Census Data, focused on building a collaborative and quality-controlled shared knowledge infrastructure of Census and electoral data. In addition to the Lab’s technical efforts to produce an accessible, high-quality, pre-processed fusion of geographic, demographic, and electoral data, the funding enabled us to foster relationships with nonprofit organizations and civil rights groups, as well as host workshops for students, educators, scholars, and professionals. We were able to support three sub-awardee organizations: MIT Election Data and Science Lab (MEDSL), the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), and Common Cause.
Selected activities supported by this grant;
- In November 2019, MGGG and MEDSL co-hosted a two-day workshop to facilitate discussion between scholars, data specialists, state and local government officials, and legislative staff working with Census and election data from around the country. The purpose of the workshop was to showcase national perspectives and catalog current practices, policies, diﬃculties, and practical data administration issues on the ground and discuss the future of geo-electoral data management.
- On July 10, 2020, the Lab hosted Graphs & Networks, a one-day virtual conference to facilitate cross-disciplinary conversations about mathematical tools. Over 600 participants registered to attend. Speakers included Rediet Abebe (Harvard Society of Fellows), Steve Strogatz (Cornell Mathematics), John Urschel (MIT Mathematics), Ana Andreea Stoica (Columbia Computer Science), Tina Eliassi-Rad (Northeastern Computer Science/ Network Science), and Cris Moore (SFI).
- In June, the Lab hosted Geodata Bootcamp, a two-week virtual training program for students, recent graduates, and educators interested in developing their data wrangling skills for voting rights projects. Participants learned to work with election and demographic data using QGIS, Python, GeoPandas, and other open-source tools. In addition to learning technical skills, students participated in sessions introducing the Census data, Voting Rights Act, Communities of Interest.
- The Lab hosted a second three-day summer Mapping Training that introduced a mix of public and commercial software for making and analyzing district maps.