Irene Vidyanti, data scientist at the Los Angeles County Chief Information Office, part of the Chief Executive Office, has a unique role even among her peers in the field. Vidyanti works countywide across departments in different sectors to conduct data-driven decision-making. As a part of the Analytic Center for Excellence (cleverly titled ACE), Vidyanti looks at data from different areas of work to make informed choices about programs. From health to operations, justice to homelessness prevention, she allows the data to lead initiatives throughout the county. She explains her role below:
Currently, she is leading efforts in the arena of justice, child protection, as well as, maternal and child health. She also supports work in housing & homelessness, social services, and most recently in how the county has responded to COVID.
DIVING INTO DATA
While Vidyanti has only been with the county CIO since April 2019. She transferred from the Department of Public Health working in the same arena using data to support decision-making with a health-oriented policy focus.
During her graduate work, Vidyanti was focused on health research specifically. At the time, it seemed the best way to have an impact with her skillset. Her Ph.D. dissertation looked at different screening strategies and their cost-effectiveness including telescreening, in a pre-COVID era.
In these early days of her work, the ability to see a story in the data appealed to her. Initially, it was about being able to gain understanding from the patterns — but something even more exciting became apparent under the surface– being able to influence that story, to redirect its outcomes was also possible.
This was the first moment she began to see that data wasn’t what was happening, but being able to shape it as well.
Her work with Los Angeles County, first with the Public Health Department and later with ACE, has been about that work specifically. Using the data to influence the direction of a program, initiative, policy, or intervention. Vidyanti shares more of her hardwon firsthand experience below and offer tips for data scientists who are interested in using data more effectively to influence decision making.
NITTY GRITTY WORK
HOW LA COUNTY USES DATA