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Big Data and Analytics Through the Lens of the Obama For America Tech Team

8/29/2013 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Big Data Through the Lens of the Obama for America Tech Team

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

6:00 PM


222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, 12th Floor Chicago, Illinois 60654, Chicago, IL (map)

Check your politics at the door and come listen to how big data and analytics changed the face of campaigning forever! Gabriel Burt, Dan Wagner, and Chris Coté worked on the tech teams behind Obama for America during the 2012 campaign. They’re going to talk a little bit about the application/platform they built for the campaign, why they decided to build it, and how it changed the way volunteers campaigned for Obama. We always hear about big data and analytics being so important, but why are they important? These guys will also talk about what they’re up to now that the election is over. Trust us, you don’t want to miss this event!

Gabriel Burt is the VP of Engineering at Civis Analytics, an analytics technology startup founded by the Chief Analytics Officer of the Obama 2012 campaign where they built the technology and analytics tools necessary to run the first individual-level campaign in history, guiding decision-making and resource optimization across the campaign. Civis Analytics is solving the world's biggest problems with big data for non-profits, political organizations, and companies.

Gabriel co-led the Analytics Technology team on the campaign that created its 50 TB integrated database and created tools that empowered hundreds of analysts and organizers, and oversaw some of the campaign’s most creative and impactful projects, including media optimization, mapping and analysis tools, record matching, and targeted sharing. He blogged more about his campaign experience.

Christopher Coté is the Director of Engineering at Discovery Communications. Christopher leads the technology and software engineering efforts for the Emerging Business and Strategy Team which is a part of the research & development team at Discovery.

His previous endeavors include Lead Engineer at Obama for America (OFA), VP of Technology at SpotOn, a local Chicago technology startup, as well as running his own technology consulting company.

While at OFA, he was lead engineer for the DigiTech group, responsible for making the massive technology backend (Narwhal) accessible to the digital team, who handled majority of the front-end work. With his prior experience in social media integration he was tasked with creating "Blaster", software that "blasted" twitter and facebook messages to the President’s millions of followers.

Christopher’s position at Discovery Communications keeps him at the bleeding edge of digital and media technology. He keeps himself busy with extensive research of emerging technologies and continuing to write A LOT of code. In addition, he is responsible for building and fostering a technology team to dream up and implement new ideas.

Dan Wagner is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Civis Analytics, ambassador for the firm’s external partnerships, representing the company’s vital, core interests as it engages client business opportunities.

Dan served as the Chief Analytics Officer on the 2012 Obama campaign, overseeing a 54-person team of analysts, engineers and organizers that provided analytics and technologies for voter contact, digital, paid media, fundraising and communication. His department’s work was credited with “reinventing how national campaigns are done” and has been highlighted in Time Magazine, MIT Technology Review, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the Los Angeles Times and Harper’s.

Dan began his work in politics as the Deputy Voter File Manager for Barack Obama during the 2008 Iowa caucuses, which defined the relevance of data, and client comprehension of data, in his career. That led to roles as the Great Lakes Targeting Desk and National Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Targeting Director, followed by the National Targeting Director at the Democratic National Committee for the 2010 election cycle. Dan previously worked with the FTI Consulting Economics Practice. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics and Public Policy.

Dan is originally from Birmingham, Michigan, where he grew up imitating Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” performance. He remains the first one on any dance floor. He is fluent in Spanish and, according to two sources with knowledge of the incident, cried during “Like Water for Chocolate.” He used to play congas - not to be confused with the bongos - in a DC funk band.

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