Data-for-Good Heating Up in Singapore
October 27, 2014

At DataKind Singapore, we eagerly waited our turn as one after another of our fellow Chapters held their launch Meetups and were stoked to see the fantastic attendance they all had! We were then thrilled to see the trend continue at our first Meetup on 16 October as we packed the venue (kindly sponsored by Neo!). We were floored by the amazing and overwhelming response of our local data do-gooders.

You know the Data-for-Good movement is moving full speed when the air conditioning can't keep up. In fact, it's one of our metrics of success.

As it turned out, we packed our venue to the gills and really challenged the air conditioning system! While this predictive analytics fail could have been an inauspicious start to DataKind Singapore, the enthusiasm of our volunteers shone through as they sweated and swapped introductions in spite of the heat, eager to learn how they could get involved in the local Data-for-Good movement.

We kicked off the event by presenting DataKind and the collaborations DataKind Headquarters in New York has had with different nonprofit organizations. One example we showcased is DataKind’s work with the nonprofit organization, DC Action for Children. A DataDive in 2012 produced a neighbourhood-level visualisation prototype of the different levels of need in Washington DC, which was further developed by a DataCorps team into a publicly available data tool.

Another case study we featured was DataKind’s work with GiveDirectly. DataKind volunteers developed a machine learning algorithm to identify needy villages in Kenya and Uganda via satellite images by using buildings with thatched roofs (as opposed to tin roofs) as a proxy for need. Besides showing the data science chops of DataKind, it shows the generous spirit of DataKind volunteers with over one thousand images manually classified to build a training set. The resulting paper on this work was selected by KDD as the Best Social Good Paper in KDD 2014.

We then shared our upcoming roadmap for DataKind Singapore and appealed to social sector organizations to come forth and let us know what they think. Jack Sim (of nonprofit organization World Toilet Organization and now BoP Hub) asked about how data analysis could help his team. Anja Wessels and Yasmin Lalani from H.O.M.E. spoke about the difficulties they’ve encountered as researchers analyzing human migration data. Choy Yee Mun from the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre talked about working with different social sector organizations and how more can be done to assist them.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening! It was so nice for us to see the intersection of our local data science and nonprofit communities here in Singapore and to share our thoughts on how we can work together.

Thanks to everyone who was there! We had such a great time meeting you all and we have the photos to prove it! If you couldn't make it in this time, be sure to sign up at our Meetup page and join us for our upcoming events in November. DataKind Singapore is just starting to heat up.

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