Operations Research Scientist / Data Scientist

Request for Proposals


DataKind is a global nonprofit dedicated to harnessing the power of data science and artificial intelligence (AI) in the service of humanity. Named one of Fast Company's 2017 top 10 innovative nonprofits, DataKind teams talented pro bono experts from academia and industry with visionary changemakers to collaboratively design innovative solutions to tough social challenges. We help social organizations apply their data to predictive analytics, machine learning algorithms, and AI needs in a way that both increases impact and prioritizes ethics.

See below for more information about our work and community.

Project Description

DataKind will be joining forces with Riders for Health, an international nonprofit organization that has been a key health service delivery partner to Ministries of Health in five African countries for over 30 years. While Riders for Health has developed a unique system by expertly selecting appropriate vehicles and by training couriers to handle samples, optimizing logistics in such low-resource settings is made very difficult by long distances over difficult terrain, vehicle capacity restrictions, fuel availability, poor connectivity and data systems, and more. Manual scheduling systems that try to take all of these factors and more into account are often inefficient and result in the hardest-to-reach communities being underserved. 

The purpose of the partnership will be to produce an open-source, open-access route optimization tool to maximize the coverage and efficiency of Riders for Health’s frontline health service delivery for COVID-19 response and safeguard the remote communities from being underserved. This project will build on the work done in a previous DataKind project, and the route optimization tool will ultimately help Riders for Health and other organizations facing similar challenges in frontline service delivery.

DataKind is looking for an Operations Research Scientist / Data Scientist with expertise in optimization and routing to scope and execute this high-impact project by the end of October 2020.

Responsibilities include: 

  • Get your hands dirty by reviewing and learning from the previous project and assess existing codebase (Python, C++, OR-Tools, OSM, OSRM) to develop an understanding of its capabilities and limitations 
  • Use human centered design principles to define new requirements for our project partner’s deployments 
  • Develop a project implementation plan, an audit of partner’s data, and a feasibility and risk assessment of proposed methodology/ies, with specific considerations for engineering scalable solutions 
  • Apply your expertise by expanding the functionality of the previous code base to apply to Riders for Health’s specific use case as well as general use cases for capacitated vehicle routing problems more generally
  • This project can be completed exclusively by either you or in conjunction with a small support team of volunteers. If executed with volunteers you will also: 
    • assist in recruitment, interview, and selection process of expert volunteers 
    • Lead team of expert volunteers to execute on implementation plan
  • Conduct general project management tasks such as leading day-to-day project operations, ensuring work is progressing as planned, and managing communication project partners
  • Ensure high quality work across the board


By noon on Sunday, August 17, 2020, interested parties are requested to submit a proposal package to michael@datakind.org that includes: 

  1. Your resume 
  2. A summary of what interests you about this opportunity 
  3. General qualifications explaining your work and previous related experience that makes you an excellent candidate’ for this position 
    1. If you have experience working internationally, please describe that 
  4. A skills matrix of your expertise in using Google OR Tools, Python, C++, geospatial analysis, and related tools (geopandas, shapely, QGIS, postgis, etc.)
  5. Based on public details available about DataKind’s previous project and its current partner, a description of the approach you might take to scope, design, and execute the project, including key milestones and estimated timeline
  6. An estimated range of hours and rate per hour, or alternatively a specific fee for service
  7. Two references of past clients, ideally for similar work, with contacts and context 

Please consider whether you have a nonprofit rate to offer, given DataKind’s 501(c)(3), tax exempt status. We particularly encourage women and people of color to apply.  


Strong proposals will be contacted for further discussion. These will be selected based on clarity of the proposed project plan/structure, alignment with DataKind’s goals and budget, and relevance of qualifications and past experience.

Additional Context on DataKind

  • We are 20,000 strong: DataKind volunteers hail from almost every country across the world, representing a community of technologists and social change makers who believe in using data science and AI for a stronger planet and a more just and prosperous world.
  • We have served 300+ projects around the world: From using satellite imagery to measure crop yields to automating the fight against hate speech online, our volunteer community has shown up to help solve some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity around the world. Through this approach, illustrating what we call “the art of the possible,” these projects have resulted in more effective NGOs, more funding for social change organizations, and more awareness of the power (and pitfalls) of data science and AI in the social sector. 
  • People are at the center of our process: The most advanced machine learning algorithms are useless if they’re not designed for real people’s problems. DataKind celebrates human centered design principles that focus on the “why,” the “for whom,” and the “should we” long before we ever get going on the “what.”
  • “AI for Good” will only succeed if it’s “AI for All”: We will continue our work until all people and all communities can use digital technology for the outcomes they want to see. We support not only the tech communities of today but also anyone in any community who wants to lead how data technologies serve their needs fairly, with an emphasis on including individuals from groups that are historically underrepresented in technology or will be impacted by the intervention. 

DataKind has always known that we will not be able to combat all of the world’s looming challenges on the backs of individual, short-term projects alone. Thanks to generous long-term support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, we are now focusing the DataKind network on issue areas, such as improving health outcomes through Frontline Health Workers or increasing economic resilience. Over a period of five years, DataKind has been granted $20M to make this vision a reality, and we are looking for people to join us in this journey. You can read more about the new strategy here.