Katie Miller of Impact Hub Ottawa shares her experience using Ottawa Insights for social impact.
We live in a world where it’s important to be able to access, analyze and apply data to make the most of our influence in the social impact sector. That’s why the Ottawa Community Foundation recently updated Ottawa Insights, a robust and reliable online source for data that is available to anyone in our community. This is the second in our series of blog posts where members of the community share how they use Ottawa Insights to inform their work.
Katie Miller is the Managing Director of Impact Hub Ottawa, a community of creative and entrepreneurial change makers shaping a better future for our city through social innovation and cross-sector collaboration. Katie has found Ottawa Insights to be a valuable tool, using it in Impact Hub Ottawa’s social entrepreneurship training and development workshops.
“When we work with early stage social enterprises or people with social initiatives, we try to connect them to Ottawa Insights, and show them how to use it, so their project insights are rooted in accurate, local data,” explains Miller.
“I think that a lot of the time when people get excited about starting a new social initiative they have been directly impacted by the issue, so they’re emotionally connected to it. We don’t always remember to zoom out and really look hard at that specific topic area and understand the relevant data within our city so we can have the most direct and efficient impact in that area. Ottawa Insights helps us to do just that.”
Ottawa Insights is designed to help visitors that come to the site, understand how different issues are interconnected and how they can’t necessarily be isolated from each other.
“The way the data is laid out (see the Mix and Match and Explore Topics sections of the website) helps users make those connections,” adds Miller. “They also help people see opportunities for collaboration, and how things are affiliated.”
Access to reliable data can help users understand the many facets of our city, as well as plan, make informed decisions, implement programs and services and measure how effective they are.
On the topic of evaluation, Miller explains that “sometimes measurement is not embedded in the operational processes of an organization. Ottawa Insights is a good way to get a sense of what’s already being measured on a regular basis. We try to teach the organizations we work with how their project is connected to those existing measurements. And then being able to define whether those numbers are improving over time, and whether your activities are affecting that metric.”
Being able to measure impact is important but can be complex, particularly if the work is relationship-based or can’t be measured for years to come.
“For example, one of our programs might not support the participant to start a business tomorrow and might only come to life years later. You can’t always trace a direct line. We have room to improve when it comes to evaluation. Ottawa Insights is definitely a useful step forward,” says Miller.
Find out more about Impact Hub Ottawa’s workshops and other services here.