How You Can Help in Your Corner with Data Science: Drawing from Successes at the Detroit Fire Department

Speaker: Cassie DeWitt, Detroit Fire Department

Data science at the Detroit Fire Department utilizes an integration of technology and data to problem solve and provide actionable insight in response to several key issues. In the first half of my presentation, I cover how I have utilized a combination of technology and data to lay the groundwork for a successful data science program. During this part of my presentation, I reference the partnerships, tools, and practices I have used to create a foundation for data science at the Detroit Fire Department. In the second half of my talk, I demonstrate how the Detroit Fire Department is utilizing this foundation of data science, where analytics at DFD are headed, and a trajectory I have charted for this direction. During the second half of my presentation, I reflect upon the field of data science and, thereafter, posit that the field needs to better ask questions that point to the betterment of the organizations/departments that data scientists serve. In addition, I propose that the field needs to better utilize technology, not as a product—but as something that helps the organizations and institutions that data scientist serve better realize their mission and vision. Expounding upon this bi-proposal, I explain how the Detroit Fire Department is utilizing these needs into its evolving data science program.

Speaker bio

Cassie DeWitt is a Detroit-based data scientist and social scientist who integrates quantitative and spatial data analysis with technology and applied research methodology. She utilizes this combination to identify and help solve problems the Detroit Fire Department encounters in moving towards its strategic vision. As the Lead Data Scientist at the Detroit Fire Department, she has demonstrated a track record of producing actionable insight on building fire + EMS incidents, response time analysis, and resource allocation. She additionally manages the DFD Data Team, which comprises the Detroit Fire Department and the Department of Innovation and Technology. Under her leadership, the DFD Data Team oversees the Open Data Portal; reports performance-based metrics to Commissioner Jones and Mayor Duggan; and oversees data quality.

Previous to the role of Lead Data Scientist, Ms. DeWitt was a Data Analyst under the former Executive Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins. From 2011 to 2012, she worked on several revitalization projects in the City of Detroit.

Ms. DeWitt received her MA from Taubman College at the University of Michigan. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (double honors) in English from Wayne State University.