• Datafest Ottawa: Using big data for good

    Hire Immigrants Ottawa and United Way staff present at Datafest Ottawa“You're a newcomer to Canada, you work with newcomers, or research and write about immigration. Maybe you like to code for fun, or digital design is where your passion lies. If any of the above apply to you, grab a friend and join us for Datafest Ottawa: Hacking Migration in the Capital on April 12 & 13.”

    At United Way Ottawa, we have a goal to “help bring immigrants and new Canadians together with employers to find jobs that match their skills.”  We also work closely with Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO) a community-wide initiative that connects employers, immigrant agencies and stakeholders in assisting employers to access the talents of Ottawa’s skilled immigrants.

    So when my colleagues at HIO and I learned about Datafest Ottawa, we knew we had to get on board. 

    Our first step was to develop a pitch. Through HIO’s work with employers, we know that client-facing organizations benefit from knowing their local customers.  Whether it is language or cultural background, a better understanding of your customers and clients allows an organization to ensure they have employees who can provide the new or customized products or services that help to grow a business and improve its service delivery. 

    We proposed a solution that involved developing an app or tool to enable users to quickly and easily select a geographic region in Ottawa and then have data displayed about the linguistic and cultural landscape of that region’s population.  Dr. Elizabeth Kristjansson and Dr. Michael Sawada, the two primary researchers with the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study, provided this rich data.

    Over two fun-filled days, we brainstormed ideas and concepts and explored how maps could be used to visualize local data that would help employers make the best possible decisions based on the best information.  Our incredible team included writers, journalists, data analysts, coders and web designers.  In the end, the judging panel applauded our product and presentation and we walked away with third prize. 

    More importantly, we now have an open source product that can be scaled up and used by HIO, United Way and others for work around immigrants and employment issues.  HIO’s Kelly McGahey and I would like to thank the fabulous Louisa Taylor - a writer, editor and facilitator with a keen interest in open data and migration issues - for organizing such an incredible event. We would also like to acknowledge the “big brains” who brought our idea to life:

    • Aqueela Somani
    • Katie Clancy
    • Leah Snyder
    • Shuyi Lang
    • Melanie Coulson
    • Matt Leduc
    • Philip Karpiak
    • Edward Ocampo-Gooding

    For the latest news and information, follow @HireImmOttawa and @UnitedWayOttawa.

    Paul Steeves is senior manager of Research and Evaluation at United Way. Learn more about Paul’s work in the video Smart City, Smarter Data.

  • City of Ottawa employees change lives with United Way campaign

    City employees exceeded their campaign goal this year, raising an incredible $519,007 for United Way Ottawa through the 2013 Employee Campaign. United Way 2013-14 Campaign Co-Chair Goldy Hyder attended City Council to thank City employees for their commitment. Read what Mayor Jim Watson and United Way President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Allen had to say about this incredible achievement and watch highlights of the event below. City employees have changed over 17,500 lives for the better through donations to United Way in the last 10 years.

  • Second Annual EARN Conference

    The second annual EARN (Employment Accessibility Resource Network) conference was held at Ottawa City Hall to increase knowledge and awareness around hiring people with disabilities. The event brought together several employers, service providers and people with disabilities who spoke at the conference about their experiences and why hiring these individuals is beneficial.

    For information about this year’s event, read an article by United Way’s Kelly Mertl and watch the video below. 

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