In the 11 years since DataKind’s founding, we have been tackling the world’s biggest challenges with AI. In 2023, thanks to new and continuing support from our funding partners, DataKind was able to build up our data science and research teams, including new positions for product owners and a director of research, enabling us to take on more as demand for our work grows. From innovative projects that leverage data to drive positive change in our domains of frontline healthcare, economic opportunity, climate & environment, and humanitarian response; to fostering a vibrant global community of socially-minded data scientists and enthusiasts, here are some of our highlights from 2023.
In January, AI was front and center at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting at Davos, with leaders calling for “bold collective action”. DataKind CEO Lauren Woodman spoke on panels focused on engaging in forward-looking dialogues and helping to identify solutions through public-private partnerships. The widespread popularity of ChatGPT has brought a wave of interest in the potential of generative AI, and DataKind reached out to our network with new resources and support in navigating these within the social impact sector. In October, Woodman chaired the WEF’s Global Futures Council on Data Equity and DataKind collaborated on a white paper on data equity: Data Equity: Foundational Concepts for Generative AI.
In March, DataKind entered a new phase of our partnership with Save the Children and Microsoft, leveraging data to improve the efficiency of humanitarian aid response around the world. In April at Open Data Week, DataKind launched the first prototype of our new investment tool, developed in collaboration with the Black Wealth Data Center. We continued our popular webinar series for social impact organizations, Nonprofit Data 101, with new courses created for non-technical professionals, including automated reporting with dashboards, stakeholder engagement, and machine learning.
This year, DataKind continues to grow and develop our global network of data scientists and enthusiasts, who bring varying expertise, skills, and perspectives to the Data for Good community. Some are already working on social sector projects and are looking to add to their portfolio of work, while others are focused on the private sector, and looking to explore the Data for Good movement. In 2023, DataKind held DataDive® events all over the world, including our first-ever in person DataDive event in Nairobi, Kenya, a global, virtual DataDive event with the International Monetary Fund, and in-person event with local elected officials in Central Florida.
DataKind published a series of knowledge products in 2023, beginning with an analysis of Economic Empowerment with the support of Google.org, followed by a landmark report on equity in tech in partnership with GetCities. For Earth Day, DataKind published two landscape analyses in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, laying out opportunities for data science to support Water Justice and Energy Equity in the US. With the support of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, DataKind published two additional landscape analyses in September during UNGA week on Inclusive Climate Finance and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).
In the fall, DataKind announced new support from Google.org to support our economic opportunity domain. DataKind’s work in this domain includes job creation and education, access to financial services such as small business loans or CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions), policy recommendations, and predictive modeling and forecasting. The four tools that this partnership is focused on scaling will each address different aspects of economic opportunity and inclusion, and were co-designed with on-the-ground experts. The first of these is our Student Success Tool, a project pilot with John Jay College of Criminal Justice, featured in The New York Times and CBS News.
Wrapping up the year, DataKind launched Learning Circles, a new resource to aid social impact organizations in applying best practices with data and AI. The program will bring together education materials, cohort knowledge sharing, and support to data strategy leaders at social impact organizations by providing a safe space for them to discuss their opportunities and challenges. We received a massive amount of interest, with over 140 organizations requesting a spot. While we are only able to accept a small number of these for our first cohort, we are hoping to expand the program in 2024.