Big Shoulders: Dan Shalmon, External Engagement Coordinator, Cline Center for Democracy

Jan 18, 2017   |   Adam J. Hecktman

Dan Shalmon

You know what would be a really cool job?  One where you are at the intersection of the heart of democracy and extreme-scale data analysis.  Meet Dan Shalmon of the Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). There, students and faculty are working together to use information to understand and better democracy.

The Cline Center uses data, combined with research tools and algorithms that they created, that derive deep insights and understanding of a variety of understudied topics around democracy.  They accumulate, curate, and leverage data to study democracy-related topics such as civil unrest, development of global social indicators, ethnic and religious group trends, sentiment analysis, and measuring rule of law constructs, just to name a few.

The research topics themselves require strong domain expertise.  But acquiring the data to do the evidence-based research is a monumental challenge.  Much of the data that they work with is unstructured – think of articles from the media, other research, and journals going back decades.  Not only is it text based, a good chunk of it is non-digital.  This is where the tools and methods that the Cline Center truly shines.  Join me in this episode of Big Shoulders where Dan Shalmon takes us through his work.

Watch Adam’s chat with Dan live on Advisor.tv.

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Adam J. Hecktman
Adam J. Hecktman

You may recognize Adam. He’s a regular on TV, you can hear him on the radio, he’s penned numerous articles and is the co-founder of the Chicago City Data Users Group. But some of Adam’s most important work is done behind the scenes in his role as Microsoft’s Director of Technology and Civic Engagement for Chicago. Tech giants, universities and government leaders turn to Adam for guidance on all matters technology, and he happily obliges, helping Chicago overcome challenges and capitalizing on new, exciting opportunities.