Elizabeth Grossman

partnership design + execution

Elizabeth Grossman
Meet Elizabeth
As Director of Civic Projects in the Tech & Civic Engagement Group at Microsoft, Elizabeth works with teams in Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle and the Bay Area, to build long-term partnerships in local communities and leverage Microsoft expertise and resources to make a sustainable and scalable impact on the pressing issues and challenges in these cities. Areas of focus include economic development and innovation, smarter and more sustainable cities, data and openness, and 21st century education and opportunities. Elizabeth is based in Washington, DC. Before this job, she worked on science and tech policy for universities, associations, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Her education balanced a Ph.D. in computational physics from the University of Chicago with a liberal arts undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College. Now she reads a lot of novels.

Data for Good – Joining a Team Effort

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“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi

I was never much for team sports (I have lousy eyesight and scars from high school field hockey). But even football-obsessed coaches know that the world is better off when smart people with very different areas of expertise come together to tackle important problems. So I’m beyond thrilled to be joining the Board of DataKind because:

  • The DataKind staff are visionary about a new model to bring together different kinds of expertise to harness data science in the service of humanity, and they are creative and driven in refining and executing that model (see above image).  
  • The other Board members are smart, thoughtful people invested in helping a new organization innovate, succeed, and grow.  
  • The non-profits collaborating with DataKind on projects are dedicated to their missions and open to novel approaches to assessing challenges and interventions.  
  • The ecosystem of DataKind funders and subject matter experts bring a larger context on the systems, policies, institutions, tools, and research that shape where and how data science can contribute and how to integrate and scale the impact of DataKind projects.  
  • The DataKind volunteer network is a globally-distributed network of amazing, motivated individuals.  

DataKind’s website provides examples of what happens when DataKind catalyzes these elements into projects – from forecasting water demand during a drought to reducing injuries and deaths from traffic incidents or house fires to tailoring care for people with mental illnesses.  Learn about ways to get involved here.

This new year, I am grateful for the opportunity to become more deeply integrated into this ecosystem (team) and provide my perspective and skills however I can to help these organizations and individuals work together to make the world a better place.

Read more about Elizabeth’s board membership via DataKind.

Boston as the Model of Innovation – Again!

Photo: AOB Photo

Panelists: Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, Elizabeth Grossman, Microsoft Tech & Civic Engagement Group, and Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston. Photo: AOB Photo

Last Thursday, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and Boston University hosted an event in Washington DC on “The Cities of Tomorrow” which highlighted Boston’s innovation in strategic approaches to and execution of smart cities activities. The panel discussion featured Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, and Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF, and was moderated by me.

It was a robust discussion on topics like implementation processes for new smart city technologies, how to scale solutions within and among cities, approaches to inclusive design, policies around security and privacy, and models for public private partnerships.

Panelists: Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF, and Elizabeth Grossman, Microsoft Tech & Civic Engagement Group. Photo: AOB Photo

Panelists: Elizabeth Grossman, Microsoft Tech & Civic Engagement Group, Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF. Photo: AOB Photo

The audience, including representatives from Congress, agencies, think tanks, universities, and companies, heard about individual smart cities projects underway in Boston and elsewhere. At a broader level, the panel also discussed how cities like Boston are developing new programs and capacities to efficiently and inclusively identify how emerging digital capabilities can serve citizens, strengthen communities, and enable economic development. Lauren described the approach to the recent redesign of the Boston.gov website, including how the process built in accessibility and how it is being open sourced to enable others to examine and build on the Boston team’s learnings. The panel highlighted the range of new data sources being created about cities by public and private organizations, and Azer described BU’s Data Mechanics course where students are learning and sharing how to work with and gather insights from such data.

These are just a few examples from the conversation; you can see the video recording of the full discussion here.

Community Training on Data and Technology: New Partnership between Microsoft and the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP)

April 1 marks, among other annual activities, the anniversary of the launch of the first weather satellite, TIROS-1.  When it was turned on in 1960, people saw their first large-scale images of cloud patterns moving across the earth, including a typhoon near Australia.  Since then, the weather forecasting and warning systems enabled by access and analysis of satellite imagery have saved millions of lives and billions of dollars.  

That experience is just one illustration that the most impactful advances in technology and data, then and now, aren’t just about our changing capabilities, but are driven by the challenges society faces, the opportunities we prioritize, and the people we empower.  

Therefore, here on earth, Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagement Group is delighted to be partnering with the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) to enable work around expanding training on data and technology for enhancing communities.  NNIP, coordinated by the Urban Institute, will undertake a project to explore what is known about community training on data and technology today and produce a guide and curriculum bank that can facilitate improvement and expansion of these programs nationally.

NNIP and Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagement share many core values, including the perspective that technology and data are tools to improve community outcomes and the importance of building local capacity to use these levers.  We believe this project fills an important need, focused as it is on training intended for audiences who work professionally or as civic activists to serve communities and improve neighborhood conditions, and could use data and technology to perform their tasks more efficiently, effectively, or inclusively.  

There are many examples of these sorts of training efforts:

The members in the 30 communities that participate in the NNIP network are great leaders and resources in helping residents and institutions use data to improve neighborhoods.  Microsoft anticipates great insight and impact through the NNIP expertise, Urban’s leadership and analysis, and the input and examples of others on the front lines of defining and sharing how data and technology help governments, organizations, and individuals make their communities stronger.  

A data science partnership for safer streets

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Earlier this week, Microsoft and DataKind had the pleasure of announcing Vision Zero, an international initiative that aims to reduce traffic-related deaths and serious injuries to zero. To read more about this initiative, click here.