Workshops 2024

2024 Data and Democracy Banner

Join the Data & Democracy Workshops Aug 2024! This series is designed to empower election officials, policy professionals, and researchers to undertake data-driven projects that bolster free and fair elections. Learn Python, R, Opensource GIS for electoral innovation, and dive into queuing theory, optimize resources. Presented by the Spatial Analytics and Visualization Institute (SAVI) at San José State University and the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), each three-hour workshop features a combination of short lectures on conceptual and theoretical knowledge, lab sessions and exercises. Plus, graduates can participate in GIS Day at San José State in November, 2024 (registration opens in August).

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Voter Turnout Analysis via Python & Pandas

Saturday August 10 10:00 am PDT

This workshop will guide participants through the development of a thorough and repeatable process for analyzing voter turnout using a variety of demographic elements. Using the open-source scripting language Python and the data analysis library Pandas, participants will integrate demographic data with voter turnout to compare and contrast an area’s demographic makeup with voter turnout. Such a tool will support efforts like gap analysis and the evaluation of voter turnout initiatives

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Image of the workshop instructor Andy Lyons 2024 SAVI Data and Democracy Worshop

Voter Turnout Geospatial Analysis & Visualization in R

Saturday August 10 2:00 pm PDT

This workshop will teach participants how to visualize and analyze patterns in voter participation using the open-source programming language R. Demos and hands-on exercises will draw upon real election and census data and use R packages, including the tidyverse, tidycensus, and sf. By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to import election and census data in R, summarize voter characteristics relative to the population baseline, and visualize the results as cross-tabulations, charts, maps, and simple descriptive stats.

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Image contains a picture of the instructor Cam Denny for 2024 Data and Democracy Workshop

Voter Turnout Geospatial Analysis & Visualization with QGIS

Saturday August 17 10:00 am PDT

This workshop will explore Data for Democracy using the free and open-source tool QGIS. QGIS is like a free and open democracy — it is accessible and inclusive! QGIS is similar in functionality to Esri's ArcGIS Pro, is compatible with any computer, and does not require a license or subscription. Using QGIS, we will learn to visualize and analyze data and then make some beautiful maps to show our results.

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Image of the instructor Dr. Ahoura Zandiatashbar for 2024 Data and Democracy Workshop

Ballot Drop Box Location Access Assessment via Network Analyst

Saturday August 17 2:00 pm PDT

Workshop attendees will acquire invaluable skills by employing network analyst for location analysis, honing their ability to assess accessibility to specific destinations. This Data and Democracy workshop will uniquely leverage this methodology to optimize accessibility to ballot drop box locations, with the ultimate aim of bolstering voter turnout. Participants will learn to utilize network analyst tools effectively and gain insights into spatial analysis's critical role in promoting democratic participation. By focusing on enhancing accessibility to vital civic resources, attendees will be equipped to make meaningful contributions to community engagement and democratic processes.

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Image of Dr. Tahereh Granpayeh for 2024 Data and Democracy Workshop

Voter Turnout Time Series Analysis

Saturday August 24 10:00 am PDT

This workshop provides a foundational understanding of predictive modeling techniques in political science. Participants will be introduced to the fundamentals of time series analysis to anticipate voter behavior trends accurately. Through this interactive session and utilizing practical exercises, attendees will learn how to leverage historical data to forecast turnout rates for upcoming elections. Expert instructors will offer guidance on building basic forecasting models tailored to the dynamic nature of electoral processes. By the conclusion of this workshop, attendees will have acquired essential skills to initiate informed predictions crucial for political campaigns and policy decisions.

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Image of the Instructor, Dr. Bo Yang.

Ballot Drop Box Location Accessibility and Suitability Assessment via Raster Data

Saturday August 10 2:00 pm PDT

This workshop provides participants the opportunity to assess ballot drop box locations using a geospatial analysis platform. Attendees will be introduced to the concepts of raster data, data observation/recording, and weighted analyses. Through this workshop, attendees will learn how to import and inspect raster data, visually quantify and record various accessibility features, and generate an Accessibility Index for each ballot drop box location, which can provide valuable insight into potential voter turnout. By the end of this workshop, participants will have gained the skill sets needed to perform accessibility analyses using a variety of raster data sources, allowing for the improvement of voter accessibility options.

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Data & Democracy Project Team

Headshot of Judi Heher

Judi Heher - Data & Democracy Workshop Manager

Judi is an educator and independent GIS consultant. She has developed online mapping applications focused on cultural outreach and non-profit VOAD/COAD organizations. Judi loves the combination of critical thinking and creativity GIS requires of those who tell data-related stories on a visual canvas. When Judi is not working, you can find her developing on-the-fly STEM curricula for young children, aka playing with her grandkids.


Headshot of Dr. Ahoura Zandi

Dr. Ahoura Zandi - Democracy & Data Project Lead

Dr. Zandi(atashbar) is an Urban and Regional Planning Assistant Professor and Co-Founder/Director of the Spatial Analytics and Visualization Institute (SAVI) and founder of the upcoming MS GISc program at San José State University (SJSU), where his research focuses on micro-level analysis of U.S. high-tech zones and the role of urban form in the equitable robust knowledge economy and healthy communities. Dr. Zandi has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and a book, Urban High-Tech Zones. He is the winner of the People’s Choice Best Research Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the First Place Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the 2015 Campus RainWorks Challenge.


Headshot of Rick Kos

Rick Kos - Data & Democracy Project Co-Lead

Rick’s professional skills encompass many facets of urban and regional planning, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and education. He has taught graduate-level GIS and urban planning courses at San José State University. Rick offers introductory and advanced-level GIS courses with a strong emphasis on technological and project management skills sought by today’s employers. He has managed large teams of graduate students to produce maps and conduct spatial analysis for many clients in the South Bay including the City of San Jose Planning Department, Health Trust, Catholic Charities, the City of Mountain View Planning Department, Sustainable San Mateo, and CommUniverCity San José.


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Dr. John Curiel - Workshop Curriculum Advisor

John Curiel is a Senior Research Analyst with YouGov’s Survey Research Group. He earned his PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in August of 2019. He previously spent two years as research director with the MIT Elections Data and Science Lab (MEDSL), and an assistant professor of Political Science at Ohio Northern University. Dr. Curiel focuses on employing spatial, time series, and Bayesian methods to measure how electoral institutions mediate the fairness and integrity of elections and ensuing representation.