In this episode, Jordon speaks with Jens von Bergmann. Jens is the co-creator of ‘Mountain Math’, which is “an independent Vancouver-based company centred around data analysis, management and visualization,” and ‘Census Mapper’, which is an online visualization tool that (among other things) allows people to “create interactive Canada-wide custom maps based on census data”. He holds a PhD in Mathematics, and he taught for several years at the Michigan State University, and the Universities of Calgary and Notre Dame.
Jens is a very interesting guy for a number of reasons. He’s traveled to, and lived in, a variety of different places throughout the world, he has strong beliefs about the power of open data that have fueled his work on Census Mapper, and his expertise in data analysis make his positions on various local issues always worth hearing. And to top it off, he’s very articulate, well-reasoned, and a pleasure to speak with.
Our conversation is broadly split into three sections. The first revolves around Census Mapper and the implications of making data visualization more accessible to the general public. The second section is about housing. We spent a good amount of time talking about our regional housing crisis here in Metro Vancouver, and the role that more robust data analysis could play in helping us get the bottom of it. Jens also breaks down the cultural differences in how we view homeownership versus renting, and why in places like Germany, a sizeable proportion of the population choose to be lifelong renters. The final section is a somewhat self-serving one, concerning his experience as a “cargo bike dad”. Amy and I have our first child on the way and, naturally I’ve been spending more time thinking about the effect that growing up with a cargo bike will have on his life. Here Jens talks about the role his ‘Bullitt’ has played in his son’s development, and gives his best pitch for encouraging more families to consider the cargo bike lifestyle.
As mentioned, we spend a substantial portion of this conversation talking about Census Mapper, so if you’ve never checked it out I would encourage you to play around with it a bit at censusmapper.ca before (or while) you listen to this podcast. And for more information about Jens’ cargo bike, check out larryvsharry.com, or feel free to contact me.
To hear more from Jens, please check out his websites and follow him on Twitter.