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Oh, the places we go

We’re excited to announce the release of the second episode of Especially Big Data, our new podcast. The episode, Oh, the places we go, explores the great lengths people travel to collect a single data point, and the many issues they encounter along the way. From the door-to-door surveys of the U.S. Census, to the mountain treks of community health workers, and then to NASA satellites hovering 650 km above the earth, tune in to hear some exciting tales from the trails.

Data collectors go to great lengths to gather information. For some, those distances extend beyond earth’s atmosphere. Oceanographer Gene Feldman gave us a sneak peak at how NASA uses satellites to measure the livelihood of microscopic plants in the ocean. The information that their satellite captures in single minute would require an entire decade for oceanographers to collect by boat.

We also spoke with Steve Klement of the U.S. Census Bureau. Steve told us about the complications of surveying and serving the same population– as the census captures information about the public, for the public. While the bureau goes to great lengths to make information accurate and accessible for a general audience, there are also occasions where they need to suppress, or hide information to protect the privacy of businesses and individuals.

Meryn Robinson of Dimagi also spoke with us about privacy and the sensitivity of information– particularly when it comes to metrics on health. Meryn is a senior research coordinator, and she helps train community health workers around the world to use Dimagi’s data collection software, CommCare, on phones and tablets. While Meryn spends most of her days at an office in Cambridge, MA, she has co-workers who climb mountains for their daily collection efforts.

In addition to the full audio piece, we put together a few teasers to highlight moments from the episode. We enlisted Rachel, our in-house animator, to bring a few of our favorite audio clips to life.

Gene Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA, explaining how data collection instruments change once launched into space.

Meryn Robinson, a senior research coordinator at Dimagi, describing how her commute is different from that of a co-worker, who was training data clerks in Guatemala.

Tune in to Especially Big Data here or check out the links below:

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Founded in 2010 by Ben Fry, Fathom Information Design works with clients to understand complex data through interactive tools and software for mobile devices, the web, and large format installations. Out of its studio in Boston, Fathom partners with Fortune 500s and non-profit organizations across sectors, including health care, education, financial services, media, technology, and consumer products.

How can we help? hello@fathom.info.