Ariel Aguilar Gonzalez has volunteered as a business intelligence developer with BikeSpace since March 2018.
How did you first hear about BikeSpace?
I first heard about BikeSpace at Civic Tech meetups, which begin by introducing each of the projects. At the second meet up I attended, I randomly sat next to Jake Miller, [BikeSpace project manager] who told me the team was looking for someone who had experience working with dashboards. I have used a dashboard tool called R Shiny professionally and felt comfortable working with it.
What interested you most about BikeSpace?
I really liked that the city’s government is being more responsive to its citizens’ concerns and the idea of crowdsourcing a solution to the bike parking problem is really cool. I am helping to develop the dashboard, which is the public facing side of the application that collects and visualizes the data for all of the different reports that have been submitted. It is a very visual way of showing the different bike parking issues that are happening and hopefully stakeholders will use that information to provide better bike parking.
Describe your role as a business intelligence developer.
I have been developing the dashboard using R Shiny, an open source framework for taking R, which is a statistical program for manipulating and summarizing data and putting it into a web application format. I have been creating the code for summarizing the data in order to visualize it and working with designers to customize the look of the dashboard. I am also working with the back end developers, John and Sonal, to clear up questions over the database and any data related questions I have.
Describe a winning moment with BikeSpace.
A winning moment was the continual process of working with the designers to incorporate a lot of the brand visual standards of BikeSpace. One of the designers, So Young, created the visual identity of BikeSpace and design is not something I usually think about. She provided me with great feedback about what needed to change including the colours and fonts. I implemented these changes and the new version of the dashboard really popped.
What makes BikeSpace unique?
It’s cool that we have support from the City of Toronto and that helps us ask questions to ensure that what we’re creating will compliment the city’s efforts and that the app will be usable. We have a really good mix of people that bring different skills to the table. Even though the team is segmented by the different roles, people frequently work alongside each other and this brings a complementary set of skills that helps move things along.
When you’re not working on BikeSpace, what keeps you busy?
I’m taking a few courses at Ryerson University in big data. I blog about different data projects that I complete and because I like watching soccer, I write a lot about that too. Read his blog at arielaguilargonzalez.com.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.