DataKind Hosts First-Ever In-Person DataDive® Event in Nairobi

DataKind’s first-ever in-person DataDive® event in Nairobi kicked off with a meet and greet event, hosted by Microsoft at their Nairobi office. At the event, local data scientists and other members of the Nairobi tech community spoke about the projects, the impact of generative AI, and, of course, our upcoming DataDive event.

Data scientists came from a variety of backgrounds, and are working on a multitude of projects. Some were already working on social sector projects and were looking to add to their portfolio of work, while others were focused on the private sector, and looking to explore the Data for Good movement. Regardless, everyone was there with a common goal: dig into the data and make a positive impact.

In advance of the DataDive event, DataKind staff held a training in nearby Mombasa as part of our partnership with the Global Youth Opportunity Network (GOYN) and local partner, Swahilipot Hub. The training program provided young people in Mombasa with a unique opportunity to gain fundamental knowledge and skills in data science and generative AI. Through a combination of theoretical lessons and practical exercises, the participants were introduced to the concepts, tools, and techniques used in these cutting-edge fields. They were taught how to collect, analyze, and interpret data, as well as how to apply generative AI algorithms to create innovative and impactful solutions.

DataKind’s staff and Nairobi-based volunteers worked on two projects at the event. It was a great success for getting local data science expertise on two ongoing data science projects for DataKind — GOYN and a humanitarian data project with Save the Children — as well as strengthening our relationships in the region and gaining insights into the data science community in Nairobi. The DataDive event generated solutions for both local and international social sector partners.

The mission presented to participants was to create tools which enable humanitarian organizations to quickly understand the data available to them. This included:

  1. Visualizing the (meta) data to show what datasets are available on the Humanitarian Data Exchange platform for Kenya
  2. Querying what datasets are available using natural language processing in order to empower non-technical users with a way to access relevant data quickly

Those working on this first project reported positive results in terms of engagement and learning and within the day were able to employ a large language model to answer a variety of queries, setting up an instance of LangChain and working with the OpenAI API.

The second project was to scale a mapping application that connects unemployed youth from GOYN to community-based services. This application was created for Mombasa and the goal was to expand to other locations.

The mission presented to participants was to help scale the prototype solution. The task was to collect data on services in the two geographies that we’re strengthening our presence, Nairobi and eThekwini. This includes:

  1. Collecting and validating data on service in Nairobi and eThekwini
  2. Calculating the travel time between services and specified locations
  3. Enhancing the application by adding conversational search for services using large language models

Those working on this project reported positive collaboration and learning outcomes and within the day were able to: collect data for social service locations in Nairobi, utilize a new scraping tool, Instant Data Scraper, to narrow to extract data from websites, learn how to use Google Location API to query and extract the data, and visualize the data points for Kibera on administrative, educational, and health centers on a map.

We’re grateful to the participants, volunteers, and partners who made the DataDive event a success.

We’d especially like to thank the Hilton Foundation for their continued support of the projects and the DataDive itself and Microsoft for providing the fantastic space and staff support for the event. The support made it possible for us to bring together an amazing community of data scientists and social sector professionals. Huge shout out to the African Digital Media Institute and AcceleratED for their collaboration too!

DataKind is excited to continue working with the Nairobi data science community to make a positive impact on the world.

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