NetSquared Montréal November 2014

Last Month’s NetSquared Montréal presentation was offered by one of Commun-IT’s Coordinators, Gabriel Bergevin-Estable.
The event’s topic was “Keeping Tidy Data” (Les Données Bien Rangées).

Around 7 People attended the event, held at the BanQ on November 11th. Gabriel gave a presentation on his interest for tidy data, some case studies which show its importance, and some guidelines for how to maintaint tidy data. The presentation was followed by a Q&A, then informal discussion and networking for the rest of the alloted time.

Here was the presentation starter:

“Our organizations develop collective intelligence and memory that manifests itself digitally by the accumulation of data. Many groups must collect information for accounting, reporting to funders and members, for research or evaluation, and constantly accumulate more of it. This data can be maintained in different formats, obtained and archived using various processes and software which leave them more or less organized. The presentation will take a look at some of the principles of keeping tidy data which will encourage better archiving practices for later use, and will present services which groups can benefit from to this end.”

Gabriel presented common errors with data and data sets:

  1. not keeping the data but rather just the report,
  2. keeping the data but in an unusable format such as an image scan or a pdf,
  3. not keeping track of how the data was acquired (methodology),
  4. not knowing what the data represents because we did not keep questionnaires,
  5. not collecting the data in the first place,
  6. and not using it at all.

This was followed by a series of recommendations:

  1. saving files in proper formats (csv, xls, xml etc.)
  2. one column, one information type (variable)
  3. one row, one entry or entity (observations)
  4. keeping full questionnaires
  5. keeping full lists of mail-outs (snail or electronic) to know what your sample and population ratios are
  6. keeping a code sheet for any abbreviations used

And finished off with recommendations of services that can help to accumulate or analyze data:

  • Get training from Open North, or work with them to develop a platform, visualise data, etc.
  • Ask Data for Good volunteer data scientists to analyse or visualise your data
  • Ask COCo about CDAR resources to do your own research
  • Ask for a grant from Innoweave to get the cloud computing software solutions you may need to help collect your data, and other cloud computing solutions you may need
  • Consider some of the sources of Data you have from your online activities: Mailing lists, google analytics or other website analytics, social media analytics, etc.
  • Consult a list of open data that you can use to compare your data with.
  • Consult Data science blogs:,
  • Consult accessible databases:
  • Use some proper tools for collecting data: Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Lime Survey, CRMs, Social Media Statistics, Website Usage Statistics

What is Netsquared?

Netsquared, styled Net2 and sometimes called Net Tuesdays, is an initiative by Techsoup to organize events for people interested in the use of technology for social good to get together, get presentations from experts on the latest topics, have an occasion to discuss the information amongst themselves, and network between nonprofit workers and technology specialists. In its own words:

“Social changemakers and technological forerunners come together at Net Tuesday events to mix, swap stories and ideas, build new relationships, and reinforce the online NetSquared community.”

Gabriel volunteers some of his time to help organize Netsquared Montreal events, an initiative which occasionally gets additional support from Commun-IT.

Netsquared Montréal is constantly looking for:

  • Venues to hold presentations and events
  • Volunteer organizers
  • Volunteer speakers
  • Attendees

If you’re in Montreal, interested in the use of technology for Social Good, you could very well want to get in touch with them.

For more information about Netsquared: