Agenda 2019

Friday, April 26th, 2019, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Massachusetts State House


Click here to view the full program, with abstracts for each talk.


Dan O’Brien, Co-Director, Boston Area Research Initiative, and Associate Professor, Northeastern University

Aimee Sprung, Director, Technology & Civic Engagement, Microsoft New England Research & Development Center


Opening Keynote: 9:00 – 10:00 AM

Raj Chetty, William A. Ackman Professor of Public Economics, Harvard University, and Director, Opportunity Insights

Discussant: Orlando Watkins, Vice President for Programs, The Boston Foundation

Session 1: 10:00 – 11:00 AM

Panel A: Opportunity and Social Mobility

“Combining Big Data with Local Insight to Improve Upward Mobility,” David Williams, Policy Director, Opportunity Insights 

“The Child Opportunity Index 2.0: Measuring Neighborhood Equity Within and Across US Regions,” Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Director, Institute for Child Youth and Family Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

“The Changing Geography of Poverty in Greater Boston: Insights from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC),” Devon Yee, Senior Research Analyst, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

“Closing the Income Gap and Reforming State Systems with Strength-Based Data,” Jessica Taubner, Greater Boston Site Director, Family Independence Initiative

Moderator: Jocelyn V. Sargent, Executive Director, Hyams Foundation


Panel B: Regional Approaches to Climate Change

“Integration of Data for a Carbon Free Boston,” Michael Walsh, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University

“Visualizing spatial trade-offs of adaptation policies,” Collyn Chan, MCP Candidate, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT

“Protecting Communities from Climate Change Requires Watershed Approach,” Pallavi Mande, Director of Blue Cities, Charles River Watershed Association

“Data-Driven Climate Change Planning,” Oliver Sellers, Director, Office of Sustainability and Environment, City of Somerville

Moderator: Jennie C. Stephens, Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy, and Director of Strategic Research Collaborations, Global Resilience Institute


Panel C: Solving Boston’s Housing Crunch

“The State of Zoning for Multi-Family Housing in Greater Boston,” Amy Dain, Dain Research

“Who’s Living in metro Boston’s Family-Sized Units?,” Sarah Philbrick, Socioeconomic Analyst II, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

“Creating a Data-Informed Regional Housing Strategy for Metro Boston,” Tim Reardon, Data Services Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

“Qualifying & Quantifying Future Healthy Cities,” Nels Nelson, Senior Planner, Stantec’s Urban Places

Moderator: Dana LeWinter, Municipal Engagement Director, Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association


Coffee Break: 11:00 – 11:15

Session 2: 11:15 – 12:15

Panel A: Innovation at the Intersection of Arts & Culture, Data & Technology

“Stable Ground: Qualitative Assessment of the Impact of Arts & Culture Programming on Municipal Housing Programs,” Danya Sherman, Strategic Consultant in Community Development and the Arts

“Boston Women in the Workplace,” Nakia Hill, Former Boston Artist-in-Residence, Author, and Educator, Boston Most Resilient Women Project 

“The ArtsBoston Audience Lab: Using data to dismantle biased marketing systems,” Catherine Peterson, Executive Director, ArtsBoston

“The segregated places of Boston,” Esteban Moro, Visiting Professor, MIT Media Lab, and Associate Professor, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Moderator: Leonie Bradbury, PhD, Director of Art and Creative Initiatives, HUBweek


Panel B: Safe, Inclusive Bike Infrastructure

“A Cycling-focused Destination Accessibility Tool to Support Regional Bike Infrastructure Prioritization,” Steven Gehrke, Senior Research Analyst, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

“What Boston Area Neighborhoods have Good Bike Accessibility to Supermarkets? How Could it Improve?,” Stephanie Upson, PhD Candidate, Northeastern University

“Bike Sharing System Inventory Management: Somerville Case Study,” Rebecca Swaszek, PhD Candidate, Boston University

“How One-way Streets can Create Network Barriers for Low-Stress Bicycling, and the Potential of Bicycle Contraflow to Improve Jobs Accessibility and Equity,” Theja Putta, PhD Candidate, Northeastern University

Moderator: Stacy Thomson, Executive Director, LivableStreets Alliance


Panel C: Understanding the Experiences of Precisely-Defined Demographic Groups: Opportunities and Challenges

“Using the National Equity Research Database to Shine Light on Racial/Ethnic Inequities: Examples from the Boston Metro Area,” Clemens Noelke, Research Director, Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

“Sociodemographic Characteristics of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Adults in Boston: Findings from the 2010-2017 Boston Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,” Darien E. Mather, MPH, Epidemiologist, Research and Evaluation Office, Boston Public Health Commission

“A Computer Vision-Based Application of Microsoft AI Services to Improve Trip Planning for Individuals with Visual Impairments,” Andrew Pan, Student, Olin College of Engineering

“Physical, Mental, and Social Health in Boston: The Cross-Cutting roles of Race, Ethnicity, Nativity, and Neighborhood,” Russel Schutt, Professor of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts, UMass Boston

Moderator: Ben Forman, Research Director, MassINC


Lunch: 12:15 – 1:30

Session 3: 1:30 – 2:30

Panel A: Algorithms and Equity

“Boston Restaurant Health Inspections as a Model of Predictive Prioritization,” Matthew N.K. Smith, Principal Data Scientist, Department of Innovation and Technology, City of Boston

“StreetCaster – Bringing Equity to Street Repairs,” Katie Choe, Chief Engineer/Director of Construction Management, Department of Public Works, City of Boston

“Leveraging Existing City Data to Identify Housing-related Public Health Problems and Intervene Early on High-risk Properties,” Katharine Robb, Doctor of Public Health Candidate, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

“School Choice Evaluation,” Nancy E. Hill, Charles Bigelow Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Moderator: Aimee Sprung, Civic Engagement Manager, Microsoft New England


Panel B: Housing Access, Affordability, and Displacement

“Disinvesting in Community through Mortgage Denial: Implications for Crime, Control, and Disorder,” Eileen M. Kirk, Doctoral Candidate, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University

“Understanding and Mitigating Displacement: Eviction Proceedings as a Necessary but Insufficient Metric,” Cliff Cook, Senior Planning Information Manager, City of Cambridge

“Online Rental Housing Market Representation and the Digital Reproduction of Urban Inequality,” Geoff Boeing, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University

“How and When Do Rent Levels Contribute to Homelessness? Implications for Intercity Collaborations to Address Homelessness Based on an Analysis of Novel Data,” Thomas Byrne, Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Social Work

Moderator: Soni Gupta, Director of Neighborhoods and Housing, The Boston Foundation


Panel C: Pursuing Effective, Efficient, Equitable Transit

“Insight Lane: Assessing crash risk on road networks across the US,” Benjamin Batorsky, Data for Democracy

“Congestion Maps: A visual interactive data-driven platform tracking annual traffic conditions in the Eastern Massachusetts area,” Salomón Wollenstein, PhD Candidate, Division of Systems Engineering, and Center for Information and Systems Engineering, Boston University

“Investigating low-income transit rider travel behavior: using an automated ChatBot texting tool,” Jeffrey Rosenblum, PhD Candidate, Department of Urban Studies & Planning, MIT

“Place, Race and Space: The Drivers of Inter-neighborhood Mobility in Boston,” Nolan Phillips, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Boston Area Research Initiative

Moderator: Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Consultant, Remix


Coffee Break: 2:30 – 2:45

Session 4: 2:45 – 3:45

Panel A: Building Capacity for Innovation and Collaboration

“Sharing State Data Across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Dan Finkel, Principal Data Scientist, Executive Office of Technology Services and Security

“Shaping Public Conversations about Boston’s Smart Future,” Eric Gordon, Director, Engagement Lab, and Professor, Emerson College

“Cross-Municipal Data Sharing: Building Permit Data,” Dan O’Brien, Associate Professor, Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and Co-Director, Boston Area Research Initiative

“Regionalizing IT Across the Small Towns of Boston’s North Shore,” Tanya Stepasiuk, Assistant Town Manager, Town of Middleton

Moderator: Ann Reale, Undersecretary and COO, Executive Office of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Panel B: Innovating Innovation Districts

“Geospatial Analysis of Innovation Districts across New England: a Network-theory approach to measure and describe their design properties, economic success, and innovation performance,” Jeremy Burke, Research Fellow, Urban Innovation Research Group, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science

“Equity & Innovation Cities,” Jessica Martin, Fellow, Cambridge Community Foundation

“We’re Open: Business Hours in the Boston Region,” Brad Barnett, Co-Director, Sasaki Strategies

“Innovation Centers and the City of Tomorrow,” Alessandra Brown, Director of Community Engagement and Corporate Social Responsibility, Athena

Moderator: Cait Brumme, Managing Director, MassChallenge Boston


Panel C: Innovations in Public Safety

“Boston Hub: A Broader Vision for Community Safety and Wellbeing,” Maria Cheevers, Director, Office of Research and Development, Boston Police Department

“Virtual Reality for Re-Entry: Co-creating Immersive Stories with Incarcerated and Returning Citizens,” Melissa Teng, Civic Designer, Emerson Engagement Lab

“Chelsea Hub Crime Prevention Initiative,” David Batchelor, Captain of Community Services, Chelsea Police Department

“Locating Cannabis Equity: Defining Areas Impacted by Drug Criminalization,” Jeffrey S. Moyer, Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy, UMass Boston

Moderator: Steven W. Tompkins, Suffolk County Sherriff

Closing Keynote: 4:00 – 5:00 PM

Representative Nika Elugardo, Massachusetts House of Representatives

Abigail Averbach, Assistant Commissioner and Director, Office of Population Health, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Rebecca Davis, Deputy Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Alice Brown, Director of Water Transportation, Boston Harbor Now

Moderator: Jennifer Park, Director of Certification and Community, What Works Cities


Reception: 5:30 – 7:30 PM

Democracy Brewing, 35 Temple Place


Food and refreshments will be provided