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July 7, 2013

Using Data To Make The World A Better Place

nullQCRI partners with the University of Chicago to promote using data skills for social good

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?

Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has partnered with the University of Chicago as part of the Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good summer fellowship program (DSSG), where 36 aspiring data scientists will work closely with experts in data mining, machine learning and data science projects to make progress on these questions.

According to Dr Patrick Meier, Director of Social Innovation at QCRI, "We are collaborating with our colleagues at the University of Chicago because our principles and visions are aligned. Advanced Computing can bring about social good, social change, particularly in the context of poverty alleviation and humanitarian action."

The fellowship program is organized by former Obama for America 2012 Chief Data Scientist Rayid Ghani, funded by Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, and led by a team from the Computation Institute and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. The fellows will work with government and non-profit organizations to solve real world, difficult data problems.

QCRI has contributed one of the projects that will be addressed as part of the DSSG fellowship program – ’Measuring Disaster Damage with Tweets.’ This experimental project, which is part of QCRI’s Artificial Intelligence for Disaster Response (AIDR) project, aims to answer a difficult question:how well can social media be used to detect the damage wrought by natural disasters?

Through correlating tweets about damage and casualties during Hurricane Sandy, and other recent disasters, with hard data about the destruction, the goal of the project is to explore to what extent social media might allow earlier and more economical damage assessment and disaster response.

QCRI has plans to bring the Data Science for Social Good program to Qatar in 2014, engaging aspiring data scientists from the region. The Qatar-based fellows program will focus on applying data science to promote social good projects in the Arab World and beyond.

For more information on QCRI programs or its research projects in Social Innovation, visit
For more information about the Data Science for Social Good summer fellowship program, visit

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