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Matt Bauman

Julia Computing

Advocating for public policy change with Julia

Everyone here has a hidden superpower: you know how to code! Given the right situations, this can serve as a powerful tool to shape public discourse as citizen scientists. Following several cyclist fatalities around the University of Pittsburgh, there was a strong advocacy movement for improved traffic safety. I was curious about the raw data underlying the issue, so I put together a Julia notebook that processed a short video of the traffic through campus and calculated each vehicle’s speed. Given more time I could have put together a thorough study, but this was enough: a local bicycling advocacy group picked up the story, leading to a blog post, newspaper story, and several radio interviews. I was just one more voice, but connecting with a non-profit amplified and unified the call for change. Since then the road has been re-designed with an emphasis on bicycle and pedestrian safety. This talk will focus on the key takeaways from my interactions with an advocacy nonprofit and local community, and what I believe made it a compelling story. I’ll have some key pointers on how you might be able to find success with your own project.

Speaker's bio

Matt Bauman is a Senior Research Scientist at JuliaComputing at their Chicago outpost, where he spends lots of time working on Julia’s arrays. He’s been contributing to both the core language and multiple packages since 2014. At his previous position as a Data Science Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Center for Data Science and Public Policy, he longed for dot-broadcasting in Python. He recently defended his PhD dissertation in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh, focusing on neural prosthetics.