Los Angeles – They came. They coded. They competed. And when it was over, one of them won a job at City Hall.
In what many are saying is a first for the City of Los Angeles, Controller Ron Galperin awarded a six-month paid fellowship in his office to Mike Ludwig, who won the City’s first-ever “Iron Viz” competition.
Taking a cue from the popular show “Iron Chef,” the Controller's “Iron Viz” competition pitted contestants against each other in a time-pressure environment in which they had to create data visualizations using the software platform, Tableau.
“The idea of ‘Iron Viz’ was to find a more nimble and innovative way for the City to attract the workforce of the future,” said Controller Galperin.
At the beginning of the event, which was held at Cross Campus DTLA, a new co-working space on Wilshire Boulevard, contestants were given two sets of data in two rounds. In the first round, contestants mapped crime statistics from the Los Angeles Police Department. In round two, contestants could choose any data from the Controller’s open data website with which to create a visualization.
Although more than two dozen people registered to compete in the event, just three contestants moved on to round two. After those contestants completed their visualizations, they presented them to the panel of judges, who awarded the grand prize to Ludwig, a data science instructor from Santa Monica, for his visualization of affordable housing in the City.
“It’s an honor to win the Iron Viz competition,” said Ludwig. “This was a fun event and I’m looking forward to working in the Controller’s office and using Los Angeles’ open data to improve our community.”
“This was a great way to discover new talent and passionate people,” said Tracy Gray, who served as one of the judges of the competition. Gray is a managing partner at The 22 Capital Group and serves as Executive-in-Residence at the LA Cleantech Incubator. “We saw so many unexpectedly creative data presentations that it was very hard to select a winner.”
The other “Iron Viz” judges were: Robin Engel, a public affairs consultant with extensive government and non-profit experience who previously worked in the office of the Los Angeles City Administrative Officer; and Christopher Prince Boucher, a marketing scientist who advises social entrepreneurs.
During his fellowship, Ludwig will work on a series of data visualization projects, including adding new features and functionality to PropertyPanel LA, the Controller’s recently released database of properties owned by the City.