Using Data Science for the Greater Good


“We’re a multidisciplinary, global team built up of coders and statisticians, community builders and partnership organizers, all united by a common mission to use data science in the service of humanity,” so says the mission statement for DataKind.  As they’ve self-described, they are “enthusiastic do-gooders” trying to “harness the power of data science in the service of humanity.”  Is this appealing to you?  Are you interested in using data science for the greater good?

The Data Science for Social Impact collaborative, with investment from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, gave $20 million to DataKind to allow them to transition from being a project based business to a platform-based model where they can support multiple organizations in a set of high impact areas such as community health and inclusive growth.  A timely donation made shortly before the coronavirus pandemic.

Bayes Impact is another organization that partners with other non-profits to solve issues related to health, unemployment and justice.  Gap Minder Foundation provides statistics to understand global trends objectively promoting unbiased understanding of our world in an effort to make it a better place.  There is a Data Science for Social Good Fellowship at the University of Chicago in the Thorn Innovation Lab and Kaggle offers a number of competitions focused on utilizing data science skills for solving social problems.

How is data science being used for the greater good? The Rockefeller Foundation gave three examples:

Better Refugee Placement in Switzerland

Data scientists from the Immigration Policy Lab at Stanford University and ETH Zurich built an algorithm that optimizes placement of incoming refugees using historical data on where refugees found jobs, guiding immigration officials to make more efficient placements.

Saving Money and Water in Drought-Stricken California

DataKind working with Moulton Niguel Water District in southern California built an algorithm to predict water demand down to the city block saving the district over $25 million through more efficient timing of tanker water shipments.  This work made Moulton Niguel one of the only water agencies in California that did well during California’s droughts.

Making Essential Benefits More Accessible

A grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to Benefits Data Trust (BDT) has helped thousands of people receive critical support through the use of data, targeted outreach, support of policy change and new technologies impacting efficiency.  BDT has submitted over 800,000 applications and secured over $7 billion in benefits and services for individuals and families.

Using data science for the greater good seems even more important in the current climate of threatened global health.  Interested in talking about your career? Contact Smith Hanley Associates‘ Data Science and Analytics Recruiter, Paul Chatlos, at [email protected].

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