Monday, October 25, 2021

Data for Good Case Study: Hike Nova Scotia Survey 2020

With the goal of getting feedback from paid members, Hike Nova Scotia carried out a survey in 2020 to know what members value and expect from their membership subscriptions. Hike Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization that encourages and promotes a growing hiking culture in Nova Scotia.

They teamed up with Data for Good (DfG) which is a collective of do-gooders, who want to use their powers for good, and not evil, to help make our communities better through data.

During his 2021 Analytics Unleashed Case Study presentation, Network Lead at Data for Good Maritimes, Fernando Peña-Silva walked us through their findings. Fernando said that the survey results were sent to 5 DfG volunteers who in the span of a week analyzed data (using software of their preference, e.g. python, Tableau, Excel, R, etc.) and came up with their conclusions.

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Most of the questions in this survey required Yes or No answers, while other questions were multiple-choice, and a few were open-ended questions. “In our experience, data was not difficult to analyze, and therefore was suited perfectly for a wide range of volunteers (students, professionals, data enthusiasts, etc.)” during his presentation commented Fernando. “It was a timeline of 1 week.” he added.

He also talked about the challenge of how the question “What additional services or activities would you like?” was an open-ended question, which for analysts, tends to give them a lot of headaches. This is because sometimes a lot of people would not respond or add any comments. Some others would write maybe even an essay. While others will come up with a very short response “So how do you make something out of it? How can you group the questions?“ Fernando was quick to bring up a fair question… “Well, there are two ways” he concluded. The first one being the machine-learning way where you count the frequencies of words within the responses. While the other way is when a data set is not too big, you can look at and read every answer to come up with qualitative groupings of these answers.

Finally, Fernando concluded his entire Case Study presentation with some actions to enhance future surveys. The whole experience of collaboration between Data for Good and Hike Nova Scotia was endearing and successful. “In our experience, there are lots of non-profits out there that need help in terms of data acquisition, data management, and analytics.” Fernando commented, further adding: “This pandemic has presented tremendous challenges for non-profits, but also opportunities”. The fact that there is an increasing population working from home, combined with the social distancing restrictions, has increased the number of people willing to volunteer their time remotely.

Regarding data analytics, there’s a numbers community out there of people willing to share a helping hand. People with the right skills such as students, professionals, and data enthusiasts who when combined with access to a diverse set of tools (many of which are open-source) can bring value to a non-profit’s needs.

If you missed Analytics Unleashed, don’t worry! It’s available for on-demand viewing.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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