Sure, we geeks like to analyze energy data in quiet solitude, but we still enjoy connecting to others who share our highly specialized passion. This was abundantly apparent when more than 50 like-minded geeks turned out for an informal session at ACEEE’s Summer Study last month to discuss starting a national meetup. There was broad agreement on a few points:
- There is appetite and interest in a “community of practice” to support “energy data geek” activities and resources;
- It should strive to foster an inclusive culture, respecting different levels of skill/experience and ability to participate;
- There are several concrete and low-hanging fruits that can help get things moving.
The group discussion also generated many ideas for the kind of resources and activities that could be fostered by this community, such as:
- Short online presentations of recent work by members, followed by group discussion.
- Collaborating around the development and use of open-source software.
- Finding and sharing public data sets that can be used for research or to enrich other analysis.
- Developing a support forum for asking and answering questions about best practices and common pitfalls.
- Sponsoring competitions or hack-a-thons to crack tough problems and build community.
- Meeting up in person at existing national conferences where members are already attending.
While there were some concerns about getting enough participation, maintaining focus on energy-related topics, and navigating obstacles around sharing proprietary code and analysis techniques, the mood was overwhelmingly positive. Both novice and experienced energy data analysts agreed that there was value in creating an online community where all can improve their skills: The Energy Data Experts Network (EDEN). While VEIC data geeks initiated this conversation, we are welcoming other volunteers to help organize this nascent project.
If you or a geek you work with would be interested in learning more or joining this community, please sign up to be part of the conversation.