Eva Pereira has been appointed as the new Chief Data Officer (CDO) for the City of Los Angeles.
Previously Pereira was the deputy to former CDO Jeanne Holm, who became the Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation in November.
Pereira told capitaltribunenews.com that an earlier role in the newsroom at Forbes helped her “develop an idea for a good data story” and she then went on to study a master’s degree in urban and social policy at Columbia University.
“That’s where I really started to learn about how data can be leveraged to improve policy programmes and services,” Pereira said. During this time she had the opportunity to work on open data initiatives for President Obama’s White House team.
“That directly prepared me for the work that I’m doing today,” Pereira said. “And through all of those experiences I learned how to understand public sector challenges and how to leverage data to address those challenges.”
Data for equity
During her time in LA, Pereira says she is particularly proud of her recent work on using data to improve racial equity with regards to access to the COVID relief loan programme. In the absence of a disaggregated list, the city built its own database of around 800 black-owned businesses from sources such as Yelp’s API and news articles. The team mapped COVID relief loans by neighbourhood and created a dashboard for the mayor and economic development staff so they could prioritise outreach to communities that had lower rates of access.
Mastercard is interested in using the data for a holiday initiative aimed at supporting black-owned businesses.
“That’s really exciting,” Pereira said.
Other work she is proud of is a data literacy programme to build a data culture within the Department of Neighbourhood Empowerment. This involved creating a ‘data liaison’ role within the Neighbourhood Council system and running a series of workshops about using open data for community insights.
Now that Pereira is leading the “small but scrappy” team in LA, which consists of three core staff members as well as interns, racial equity remains a priority.
Last summer, the city passed Executive Directive, 27, which called on departments to appoint a racial equity officer and develop an action plan to review internal operations and city programmes and services through a racial equity lens.
“We’ve already worked on a baseline study of our procurement and contracting,” said Pereira. “We also did an evaluation of our emergency rental assistance distribution to identify the high priority areas that have low applications in the city and where we need to do more outreach.”
A further priority will be using data to track the city’s recovery from the pandemic, including a dashboard showing key economic, social and health metrics.
“Data will be essential to ensuring a just and equitable recovery,” Pereira said. “Whenever possible [we need to be] disaggregating the data to see if there are any disproportionate impacts on certain communities.”
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