Transforming Data into Social Impact

May 3, 2016

Written by Ng Wei Tuck

How do you start on a journey of transforming data into social impact? That was the question on the minds of over 120 members from more than 70 Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) in Singapore, who convened for a Seminar, "Transform Data into Social Impact," on 30 Mar 2016. The seminar was the first collaboration between the Social Service Institute (SSI), a key division under the Human Capital Development Group of the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) and an integrated social service hub for training, practice, resource and career services for the sector in Singapore, and DataKind Singapore to inspire ideas about the possibilities of data and kick-start a conversation on data analytics within these organisations. 

The seminar kicked off with Oliver Chen, Chapter Leader from DataKind Singapore, introducing DataKind, its work around the globe and how data science resource strapped VWOs can benefit from collaborating with DataKind.

This was followed by an Analytics for Social Good keynote by Dr. Alex Lum, Director of Advocacy & Research at National Council of Social Service (NCSS). He spoke of his experience in the VWO community, sharing various data-related questions that are common across the VWO community, and how VWOs can benefit from using data smartly.

Next, Raymond Chan, a DataKind Singapore Core Lead volunteer, presented an Introduction to Data Science. DataKind projects from around the world were showcased as case studies and Raymond described how data helped other organizations similar to their own reach goals more effectively and attain new goals they hadn’t thought possible.

Finally, Lo Si Min and Ng Wei Tuck co-led an interactive Data Analytics Lifecycle workshop to finish off the seminar. The workshop highlighted what the organizations should take note of at each stage of the journey when embarking on a data science project from how to frame the problem statement to how to find both internal and external data sources to use in the analysis. During the workshop, participants were provided worksheets that they filled in to walk them through the steps in a data science project. Throughout, volunteers from DataKind Singapore engaged and answered queries that the participants had.

For a deeper dive into their data-related questions, hour-long consultations were held for seven organizations which had pre-registered for a post seminar data consulting session. DataKind volunteers provided consultancy on the different data questions they had. The organizations and consultants discussed problems ranging from understanding what the organizations can do with their data, to how to best help their beneficiaries, and to impact analysis.

The seminar and data consulting sessions are the first steps to using data to contribute towards capability and capacity building for better planning, management and delivery of social service programmes. DataKind Singapore continues to look forward towards working with SSI to design programs that will benefit the social sector.

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