Newswise — How can we use data to make the world a better place? How will the next generation of data scientists be trained to take on projects with real-world impacts in energy, health care, public safety, education, transportation and other sectors?
The Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good summer fellowship is a new University of Chicago program where 36 aspiring data scientists will work on machine learning and data science projects with social impact.
For three months in Chicago they’ll work closely with governments and non-profits, apply their computer science and analytics skills, and learn from mentors with experience in industry, academia and the Obama campaign. The program is organized by former Obama for America chief data scientist Rayid Ghani, funded by the Schmidt Family Foundation, and led by a team from the Computation Institute and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.
“I am proud that the City of Chicago is partnering with this innovative fellowship and employing the city’s extensive data resources to make a positive impact on our community," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "By putting the country’s top minds towards tackling societal issues, Data Science for Social Good is pioneering the effort to use technology to make informed improvements to public safety, education, and transit.”
Over the summer, the fellows will use data to improve city services and maternal health programs, model bus transit, crime and the acquisition of vacant properties, extract useful information from social media during crises and disasters, predict medical emergencies in hospitals, identify energy conservation opportunities for buildings, and help high school students select and succeed in college.
"There are a lot of people really excited about data and analytics as well as making a social impact, but they don't even know where to start," Ghani said. "The goal of this fellowship is to solve concrete problems and create a long-term culture where data scientists are thinking about social challenges."
Project partners include the Chicago Transit Authority, the Chicago Police Department, the Cook County Land Bank, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Environmental Defense Fund’s Investor Confidence Project and Clear Energy Finance Center, Nurse-Family Partnership, Mesa Public Schools, Ushahidi, the Qatar Computing Research Institute, University of Chicago Crime Lab, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and the Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University. More partners will be announced at www.dssg.io soon.
The Computation Institute (CI), a joint initiative of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, is an intellectual nexus for scientists and scholars pursuing multi-disciplinary research and a resource center for developing and applying innovative computational approaches. Founded in 1999, it is home to over 100 faculty, fellows, and staff researching complex, system-level problems in such areas as biomedicine, energy and climate, astronomy and astrophysics, computational economics, social sciences and molecular engineering. CI is home to diverse projects including the Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy, the Center for Multiscale Theory and Simulation, The Urban Center for Computation and Data and Globus Online.