GUELPH POLITICAST #155 – Abhi Kantamneni

How do we better absorb data sets? Is it seeing all the numbers in black and white on pages of spreadsheets, or is by seeing it in a simple graphic that’s both colourful and interactive? Can data be beautiful? Can our municipal budget? The guest on this week’s podcast has already made the case that it can!

This week we talk to Abhi Kantamneni. You may know him as a graduate student and researcher at the University of Guelph, but you may more likely know him as an activist and local political thinker.

Last year, he started to deliver big data in new and interesting ways for Guelph when he came up with an election map that gave you all the news and information about candidates in one place, and then he tackled an infograph that showed how the tax-supported budget was spent in 2018. If $429.5 million is a tough number to wrap your head around, how about seeing it an interactive pinwheel? Isn’t that fun?

Before coming to Guelph, Abhi Kantamneni received two Masters of Science degrees from Michigan Tech, where he also co-founded MiDataLabs, which helps nonprofits analyze data, synthesize knowledge, and visualize information. And though he can’t technically vote in Guelph, Abhi has delegated to city council, and advised Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield on energy matters.

But for this podcast, it’s the data that we’re interested in. Abhi talks about his interest in municipal data, and the differences in how people can learn visually with a graph instead of a spreadsheet. He’ll also explain how much time and effort he puts into creating these infographs, and how his infographs come together in a technical programming way. Then we’ll talk about the imperfect way the City shares information, and what other data sets he might like to tackle next.

So let’s talk about the art of delivering data on this week’s Guelph Politicast!

You can find Abhi’s budget infograph at his website here, and you can engage with him on social media by going to his Twitter feed. The 2019 Budget process starts Thursday night at 6 pm in the council chambers at City Hall.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here.

Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday’s episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.

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