A Collaborative Vision: Waianae Coast Community Scorecard and Dashboard Project
As part of an innovative partnership, Data Science students at Chaminade University are teaming up with community groups in the Waianae Coast to develop a Waianae Coast Community Scorecard and Dashboard. This project is designed to be regularly conducted to measure community sentiment and report results that are easy-to-use, meaningful and actionable. The results will shine a spotlight on areas of opportunity and community wellbeing, and will help prioritize initiatives. Dr. Helen Turner, vice president of Chaminade’s Center for Strategy and Innovation and faculty of the Data Science program says, “this project is part of a broader vision that embraces Chaminade University’s ‘community first’ approach and the work done at the Center to foster an Innovation Moku in the Waianae Coast to build a refreshed economic reality that is resilient and fits with community priorities and wishes.”
This project is advised by Dr. Rylan Chong, director of the Data Science program and assistant professor at Chaminade University and by Joseph Lapilio, the executive director of the Waianae Economic Development Council and Waianae Moku Navigators.
Joseph Lapilio says “the Waianae Moku Navigators, made up of more than two dozen community organizations, is excited about the Chaminade Innovation Moku partnership and the prospect of having a reliable—and replicable—tool for gauging public opinion, welfare, wellbeing and key quality of life metrics in the Waianae Coast. A lot of what we do now is based on anecdotes or emotional reaction to issues going on. But actual data,” Lapilio said, “has power that could incite real action.”
The Partnership: Working, Learning, and Growing Together
The Waianae Coast Community Scorecard and Dashboard project was first piloted in fall 2020 and continued through spring 2021. Students enrolled in the Data Science 301: Community-Engaged Computing class worked with the Waianae Moku Navigators and the Waianae Economic Development Council to create an initial scorecard and dashboard.
Lapilio said he’s been “very impressed with how hard Rylan and his students have worked on the project. Rylan has been extremely open to community input,” he said. “Our long-term goal is not only in terms of a scorecard. It is also in terms of—how do we connect community members to data collection so it is more than just us? How do we work together? How do we connect?” The scorecard hasn’t merely been an academic exercise, but a growing experience for Chaminade students and for members of the community. “They need to be able to engage with the community, to see the community as a partner in this work,” Lapilio said.
The next step for this project is launching the initial scorecard to a test group before taking the scorecard community-wide to collect responses. The scorecard incorporates a host of data points, including information on food security, household income, housing, health, feelings about safety, technology infrastructure and acceptance, and a sense of belonging.
The Experience: Hands-On, Collaborative, Meaningful
Dr. Gail Grabowsky, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Chaminade says, “real-world projects and partnerships like the Innovation Moku get our students involved and allows them to apply their data science skills in a collaborative environment to address the wellbeing of their communities.” Chong adds, “the Waianae Coast Community Scorecard and Dashboard project is about providing the students with a taste of what data science can actually do and the positive impacts they could have in the Data Science discipline.”
Students participating in this project say the effort has been fulfilling.
“My biggest takeaway from the project was how far-reaching an effect data science can have,” Chaminade Data Science senior Aaron Walden said. He assisted with the effort in Fall 2020 and said it helped him understand how “data science can be used to identify community initiatives.” The scorecard, he said, “is a tool to visually see trends to support prioritization of the community initiatives.”
Senior Hunter Yamanaka, who is majoring in Biochemistry with a minor in Data Science, also participated in the scorecard and dashboard project in Fall 2020. He said “working with the community while digging into the numbers helped him understand how similar efforts could benefit organizations and the public. Data Science has endless ways of improving society,” he said.
“For instance,” says Data Science major Taylor Ishisaka, “data science can turn lists of data points and numbers into something visual and meaningful that everyone can understand. It can shape how we see the world.” Ishisaka, who participated in the scorecard and dashboard project Spring 2021, said “it has been eye-opening to see how much work and collaboration goes into a project like this.” Data science in Hawaii and the Waianae Coast Community Scorecard and Dashboard project is more than collecting data, programming, and analyzing data. When data science is applied to this project, it’s clearly a powerful discipline that can be applied to any field, provide a platform for a community to voice their opinions, inspire discovery and innovation, connect communities, and has the potential to confirm or make ethical societal or policy changes. As Ishisaka and Lapilio said, “when it comes to data science, the possibilities are endless, with real potential for inciting action and implementing positive change in our communities.”