Ex-nihilo data analysis; getting up and running with limited resources

Robert Mitchell | @robertmitchellv

~/$ whoami


  • I work at Skid Row Housing Trust as a data analyst
  • (I'll just refer to it as SRHT from now on)
  • I have been working in this role for around a year and a half
  • I am self taught as a programmer/analyst
  • Background in philosophy, comp lit, french, information science

A bit about SRHT


  • We do three things:
    1. Develop affordable housing; specifically permanent affordable housing
    2. Provide supportive services to the residents of our affordable building projects
    3. Manage the properties, repairs, rehabilitations, et cetera

A bit about SRHT


  • We believe in the Housing First model
  • We believe in Harm Reduction

What I'm going to talk about

The idea is to offer some perspective from my experience getting a new data collection process off the ground. I am working on my own at SRHT, so this means that from conception of the idea to the dashboard communicating the results, I was responsible for the project. This was a crash course and there were crashes.

What I want to cover

  • Five kinds of questions you ask yourself when you're in over your head
    1. What do I do if I don't actually have any data?
    2. What could I even collect?
    3. Stakeholder buy in: why should others reorient a data collection process?
    4. How to communicate the results?
    5. How to circle back to the stakeholders?

Again, how did I learn this?



What do I do if I don't actually have any data?