Evidence Based Means to Reduce Harm
It was my pleasure to work with the New Zealand Drug Foundation on a project for the Analysis Exchange with a couple of really smart and motivated individuals.
Pandu and I first encountered each other during an exchange of posts in the Analysis Exchange Google Group. He was lamenting the opportunities for students who were:
- Lacked formal statistics training
He was such a go-getter I told him if he was interested that I would be very interested in working with him as a student.
In the interim we corresponded about a few web analytics issues, during one exchange he brought up the statistical measures which he provides to clients. It became clear he was being modest about what he could do:
Error bars! Glorious error bars!
Pandu performed quite well during the course of the project. Time zone has come up as an issue and I would change my previous down casting of the TZ issue to qualify:
The student and mentor should be reasonably close. At times Pandu and I were sending documents back and forth, but due to our TZ difference we would have to wait a whole day to hear back from the other person.
Stephen is, just like all the organization participants, very knowledgeable about web analytics and what his organization should do.
The website for the NZDF has only recently launched, in addition strives to create a non-judgemental space for individuals using drugs to learn about the effects of drug use, and potentially how to get help.
This is a very tight rope to walk because Pandu and I both had the immediate reaction where we should strive to increase conversions of one type or another, but in fact this had to be balanced against the philosophical goals of the organization.
I applaud Stephen for the balacing act he does without breaking a sweat while doing an excellent job for the NZDF.
The New Zealand Drug Foundation is a very worthwhile organization working to reduce the harmful effects of drugs through evidence based means.
What that means is that when the evidence shows prisons are more likely to turn non-violent addicts into hard core criminals than have a lasting effect on their addiction perhaps they aren’t the best policy.Drug diversion programs for non-violent offenders have proven to be effective at reducing the overall costs of drug use to society so this was a good fit for me.
The Economics of Crime is a particular speciality of San Francisco State University, where I studied. I dusted off my collection crime related economics textbooks, re-read portions and passed on some extra information to Stephen.
My personal hope is for continued growth and success of the NZDF site, connect addicts to the resources which they will need to improve their lives while advocating for the most effective treatment of the same addicts by the New Zealand government.
Pandu did some really cool analysis for the NZDF, particularly with traffic coming from Facebook; Stephen was very flexible when we had a couple of technical issues. Rather than steal their thunder, I leave it to them to toot their own horns as they both exceeded my expectations: