Data science fellowship sets global sights on diabetes, unemployment and more

Fellows in Chicago and Portugal work on projects with nonprofits, governments

In Chicago and Portugal this summer, the science behind self-driving cars, virtual assistants and targeted advertising will be repurposed for nobler pursuits: safer workplaces and streets, improved vaccination and diabetes treatment, reduced incarceration and school dropouts, and much more.

The 2018 Data Science for Social Good summer fellowship is the first global edition of the University of Chicago program, with 38 fellows from around the world gathering concurrently in the United States and Portugal. Graduate and undergraduate students drawn from computer science, social sciences and statistics will spend 12 weeks working with nonprofit and government partners on projects that harness data for improved services, as well as more efficient and effective interventions.

This year’s project come from federal agencies in El Salvador, Chile, Croatia, Portugal and the Netherlands, local governments in New York City, Kansas and Tuscany, a data innovation lab in Jakarta, and a network of community health centers in Chicago. The 20 female and 18 male fellows originate from 14 countries, including the U.S., India, Germany, Israel, Thailand, Hungary, Mexico, Paraguay, South Africa and Spain.

“This is the most diverse year yet of Data Science for Social Good, from the mix of fellows and partners at our two simultaneous sites, to the range of problems that our project teams will address and the methods they will use,” said DSSG global director Rayid Ghani, a senior fellow at the UChicago Harris School of Public Policy. “We’re taking on new challenges, expanding and deepening the scope of previous work on criminal justice and education, and further demonstrating the potential of data science and artificial intelligence for social good and public policy.”

The 2018 DSSG Chicago projects include work to:

In Portugal, DSSG Europe projects include predicting long-term unemployment in Portugal, improving response to traffic incidents on Dutch highways, promoting vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella in Croatia, and improving sustainable tourist mobility in Tuscany, Italy.

DSSG Chicago is a collaboration between the Center for Data Science and Public Policy, the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation, the UChicago Department of Computer Science, and the Harris School of Public Policy at UChicago.