Data @ IFRC #8: Participatory video evaluation, Maps for Climate Change

[ed. note: Data @ IFRC is a blog series to share highlights from data-driven Red Cross Red Crescent national societies, learning opportunities and thought pieces on all things data from ethics to evidence.]

December is full of data – not enough sleep, all the deadlines and mountains of details. This dispatch of Data @ IFRC will cover examples of new data uses across the Federation, some insights from global events and, of course, some resources/reading.

Participatory Video

Often when we consider ‘data collection’, we tend to focus on math and stats. Data comes in all sizes and shapes. While there is some debate about how to weigh qualitative and quantitative data, we are a humans first organization. My colleague Miki Tsukamoto is piloting a project on Participatory Video for Evaluation in Ndaleta, Tanzania. This project was done in collaboration with the communities, a Participatory Video team and the Tanzania Red Cross Society.

Learn more about this method.

Planning Participatory video @ifrc

(Photo via Miki Tsukamoto, IFRC)

We also have some great practices in community engagement for local voices. As we consider how to share the data journey @ IFRC, it will mean demonstrating impact with stories and data bits. To us, they go hand and hand.

Maps for Climate Change and the SDGs

It was my pleasure to chair a panel at the Open Government Partnership all about Open Mapping. The session focused on how maps could make a difference in cities by illustrating examples from community engagement, mapping business, opensolarmap as well as sharing how mapping electricity could help.

The outcome of this session was to demonstrate that by involving the community in mapping, we can city-build together to achieve our SDG goals but that civil society, organizations, governments and business will need to collaborate.

Open Mapping Leaders at OGP 2016
(photo of Christian Quest, Christina Franken, Miriam Gonzalez, Heather Leson and Davida Wood.)

Thanks to the panelists for a dynamic conversation.

Building Data Literacy Networks

At IFRC, there are many data leaders and data curious. We hosted an informal Data Working group session to talk about what people want to learn/share. We also identified some opportunities and barriers. Often when people talk about ‘data literacy’, they leap to IT or data science. We aim to build inclusive which is why I was delighted to have a wide range of participants from HR, the Library, IT, Health, Emergency Response and my colleagues from Policy, Strategy and Knowledge. Together we determined a roadmap for skillshares and plans to help each other on our data-driven innovation journey.
Data working group session Dec. 5th

(photo via heather)

What is IATI?

IFRC Signed the Grand Bargain agreement. This means that we are researching how we can work with the International Aid Transparency Initiatives Standards. This video is a good starting point to understand the project:

What is Data Protection?

Colleagues at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hosted a Webinar on Data Protection. This was co-hosted by the Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP). They are seeking feedback for revised Data Protection Standards.

“The purpose of the standards, initiated and led by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and involving several humanitarian and human rights NGOs and UN agencies, is not to provide a ‘how-to’ guide for practitioners but, rather, to establish a living body professional standards informed by international law, professional ethics, good practice, and operational reality.”

You can review the webinar here.

Winter Reading

You don’t have to be a data scientist to innovate with data.

This really rings true as I look around at the activities across the Red Cross Red Crescent movement. Small data and data skills are among us. Plus we have many diverse skills that could complement the existing knowledge in house. We will need to be ready for data science, especially in the Information Management roles, but there are other ways to innovation. Colleagues over at UNDP have been doing great work:

“Data innovation is the use of new or non-traditional data sources and methods to gain a more nuanced understanding of development challenges.”

See the report with some tactics to activate your projects.


(Note: Data @ IFRC will take a winter’s nap to catch up on reading. See you in January.)


Data @ IFRC #7: Data with IFRC Africa, YouthMappers Nairobi

[ed. note: Data @ IFRC is a blog series to share highlights from data-driven Red Cross Red Crescent national societies, learning opportunities and thought pieces on all things data from ethics to evidence.]

Considering Data literacy journeys with IFRC Africa Region

IFRC Africa Strategy Meeting
Converting data literacy theory to practice needs a large infusion of reality. The more people I meet the more value is added as we plan for data literacy programs at the individual and institutional levels. Last week I joined my IFRC Africa colleagues from the regional office as well as the leaders for various country offices and cluster heads. There are 49 national societies (Red Cross/Red Crescent societies) represented by the IFRC Africa Regional office. Countries in the MENA region are supported by the IFRC Beirut office. We converged in Mount Kenya to dive into the strategic plan and roadmap for the coming year. By the end of the week, the walls were covered with charts, lists, and plans. Distilling some of the immediate and future needs, it was a great opportunity to sanity check my data literacy work plan for the coming year. We focused on how to engage youth while supporting some complex changes across countries and major thematic work such as disaster resilience and health. They inspire me with their hard, complex work accompanied by their earnest efforts to incorporate data literacy into their activities. The upcoming IFRC Data Playbook will be co-created across the regions, clusters, thematic areas by many people. Thankfully, we are building alliances with the data leaders, emerging data savvy and the data curious.

YouthMappers Nairobi

YouthMappers around the world

University of Nairobi YouthMappers

Kenyan Red Cross volunteer Esther Muiruri mentioned that the average age in Kenya is 18. If we are going to be data-driven and engage youth, then it is most fortunate that groups like YouthMappers, Map Kibera and Map Mathare are flourishing. From university students to local community leaders, I had an opportunity to connect with the Nairobi YouthMappers Chapter. There are 3 chapters across Kenya. Already they have supported a number of local and international humanitarians and development programs.

(map source: YouthMappers)

Modeling programs

There are many models for implementing shifts in a workplace. Some organizations host interns and fellowships to bring new areas of knowledge into organizations. To be honest, data use is all around IFRC. While assessing ‘data readiness’, my assumption is that there are a number of existing and emerging data leaders within the Federation. We must host skillshares or even consider internal mentorship programs. It really depends on the connections to curate an ecosystem map or, as humanitarians like to name, 3Ws (who, what, where). Slowly we are collecting data on ourselves.

While there are many frameworks to assess data readiness for countries, there are few for individuals or organization. Like any framework, there is a coldness in them, but it helps to give some focus on the data reality check as well as the socialization and feelings (eg. fear of change) that might be considered. Here is a sample of those competency frameworks:

  • Web Literacy via Mozilla (problem solving, collaboration, creativity and communication),
  • Digital Literacy via the World Economic Forum (digital identity, digital rights, digital literacy, digital communications, digital emotional intelligence, digital security, digital safety, and digital use), and
  • Critical Social Impact Skills (below) Social Impact competencies
  • Competencies for Social Impact:
    Critical Social Impact Skills

    (source: Stanford Social Innovation Review, November 23, 2016)

    There are many skills leading up to being a ‘data journalist’ or a ‘data scientist’. Just like any functioning company or organization, we need both soft and hard skills to make this happen. I am most fascinated with building ways we can add small, medium and large tasks/learning opportunities. This means convening and deputizing advocates as I go.

    The Netherlands Red Cross and colleagues created this diagram of ‘the Humanitarian Data Scientist’. I think it is really the ‘Humanitarian Data Team’ as many of the skills rest in individuals across the organization.

    Humanitarian Data Scientist

    (Credit: Maartin van der Veen, 510, Netherlands Red Cross)

    Evidence-Based Decision-making

    The reason we are focused on data literacy is to get data ready. We aim to improve evidence-based decision-making. In parallel, many colleagues are working on technology solutions to connect all the various data elements by topic and region. Humanitarians are very mindful that people come before data. As danah boyd rightfully pointed out this week, we do need to be sure the machines meet our values with algorithm accountability.

    Short Video (5 minutes): “Transparency ≠ Accountability” (article)

    There is a mailing list for computer scientists driving this agenda: “fairness, accountability, and transparency in machine learning” (FATML) (click to join)

    (photo credits: Heather Leson, CCby)


Data @ IFRC #6: Social Data, Mobile Data Collection Workshop

[ed. note: Data @ IFRC is a blog series to share highlights from data-driven Red Cross Red Crescent national societies, learning opportunities and thought pieces on all things data from ethics to evidence.]

What resources and frameworks can we draw on to build a data-driven organization? Fortunately on this journey, I have had the opportunity to meet many colleagues working on a variety of thematic areas around the globe. Just in the past week I found myself in a room of civil society data and security leaders, health practioners (community event-based health surveillance) in Geneva with the Norwegian Red Cross, Canadian Red Cross and more, a roadtrip with the American Red Cross to visit a software provider and now I’m in Kenya learning from leaders from across the continent of Africa. Truly, late December will be for distilling and napping.

Mobile Data Collection Training Workshop in Asia (Philippines)

There are many mobile data collection projects and tools used across all the IFRC network. My colleague Miki Tsukamoto recently co-hosted a workshop to collect best practices with many National Societies including Australian Red Cross, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Hong Kong Branch of Red Cross Society of China, Mongolian Red Cross Society, Myanmar Red Cross Society, New Zealand Red Cross, Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Philippines Red Cross, Vanuatu Red Cross and the Vietnam Red Cross Society.

Field exercise in Katuhatan (Valenzuela)

The workshop aimed to combine survey methods, processes and how to use the mobile data collection tool of preference selected by the region. Part of the workshop was practical user testing with a field exercise in Katuhatan (Valenzuela) They worked with volunteers to pilot the questionnaire. I think this is a fantastic way to share best practices in a collaborative way.

Resources everywhere

As we aim to build a data-driven organization, how can we collate relevant resources and obtain guidance both inside the Federation and in the wider networks? One of my core priorities is to create an IFRC Data Playbook. To achieve this goal, I am meeting with people across the Movement and engaging external partners/allies. Their input is invaluable as we co-create this resource. Last week at the Aspiration Non-Profit Software Development Conference, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of people working on Data Literacy topics. Two sessions provided some key questions to think about with data-driven project.

Progress check – (“doable, winnable and replicable”)
1. How can we tell we are making progress.
2. Barriers and Enablers in the Health of Shared Resources.


The American Red Cross has been documenting their training materials online. If you are looking to learn more, take a look.(click here) We have a plan to aggregate the multiple data resources to help people on their data journey. This will be done in collaboration and with credit to any individual or organization.

Smart Insights about social data

How can we communicate better

Since I joined IFRC, one consistent message is how each team is working to change communications flow with communities. This means we need to understand how some people communicate. While not everyone is online or using social media, the numbers of people on Facebook is still growing. Last week they launched Facebook Community Help for emergencies. I think we can expect more companies to tackle this online.

What about Open Source to support humanitarian work?

Open Source technology supports the backbone of the internet and many organizations. There are a growing number of open source projects across the humanitarian field. Colleagues at ICTWorks created some tips to help guide you.

“Open source, at the end of the day, is one tool of many in increasing impact for stakeholders. Its popularity across all industries and governments is tied to its ability to build faster, smarter technologies. However, building open source in a sustainable way requires approaching it from a developer’s perspective, especially in building a healthy community around any project.”

Read the full article here.

Photos can support your data mission: Climate Change

Data is just part of the story. How can we show impact to augment the data story? The National Geographic shared a series of photos on the impact of Climate Change. Take a look (Click here.)

Information requests

Do you have a data story from the Federation? Please share!


Data @ IFRC #3: ODK in Ecuador, HDX wins Award

[ed. note: Data @ IFRC is a blog series to share highlights from data-driven Red Cross Red Crescent national societies, learning opportunities and thought pieces on all things data from ethics to evidence.]

We have some training highlights from Ecuador, Tool tips from England and an Innovation podcast to feed your brain.

OpenDataKit Training with the Ecuador Red Cross

In Ecuador this week, Boris Gaona lead Ecuadorian Red Cross volunteers in the OpenDataKit (ODK) Advanced Course, given by the IFRC and CREPD Team. Data skills are critical for preparedness and for local capacity building. (photo credit: Boris Gaona)

BorisGaona training ODK with Ecuadorian Red Cross (Oct 31, 2016)

What is OpenDataKit?
OpenDataKit (ODK) is used around the world by Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers. It is a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions. With ODK you can create a dataset form or survey, collect the data via mobile, send it to the server than aggregate it to use for reporting or programming.

Humanitarian Data Exchange wins award

Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is an open source data site to help humanitarians share data. The project is 5 years young and is being built by an open source community. An example of the collaborative power of HDX is that there were over 1000 downloads of Haiti administrative borders after Hurricane Matthew. A number of Red Cross Red Crescent teams contributing and using HDX. As we grow our efforts on a collaborative and transparent data journey, HDX will be a key partner and means to connect with our humanitarian allies.

humdatawins ODI

Congratulations to the whole HDX team for winning the Open Data Innovation Award! (About the Open Data Institute award.)
(Photo by Zaheda Borat)

Fancy Data

Keeping up with all the data methodologies and hype can be hard. Definitely, there are some exciting opportunities with blockchain. I’d encourage you to read about some of the work over at the Start Network on this front. And, if you want to see what business, especially #fintech is up to, do take a read of Don and Alex Tapscott’s book: BLOCKCHAIN REVOLUTION: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World

It is hard to know when to add a new technology/process to your budget or workflow. A data ally shared this blockchain articledata and handy chart to help you decide:

Do you need blockchain Oleg Larovsky


Speaking of data and standards, Open Referral is busy creating the Human Services Data Specification – an exchange format for publishing machine readable data about health, human, and social services, their locations, and the organizations that provide them.” I wonder how this might help our work?

Learning zone

Simon Johnson is a data leader within the British Red Cross. He created a web cheatsheet to help you on your data basics. Check out his “50 Humanitarian IM Tips.”

The amazing Data Science Central has curated a list of Business Analysis tools. Perhaps one of these might help your work? Click for Business Analysis tools. Note: It is a top 18, not Top 20. Listicles ensue.

Thinking about Mosul

The sheer volume of people displaced in Iraq is overwhelming. Our partners over in IFRC Communications advised that:

“Thousands more people are expected to arrive in the coming days and weeks as fighting around Mosul intensifies. Humanitarian agencies estimate that the fighting could displace more than one million people. This is on top of the 3.2 million already displaced by the conflict. Throughout the country, some 10 million Iraqis are in need of aid.”

Let that sink in as winter approaches – 3.2 million displaced, 1 million about to join them and over 10 million Iraqis are in need of aid.

Consent, Systematic change and Innovation

coffee cup by Clockwise (noun project) noun_162033_cc
As we well know, the programmes and planning around data and change require regular big thinks, divergent paths and numerous cups of coffee.

Data and Consent gets a review by Linda Raftree and crew:

“Is informed consent even possible when data is digital and/or opened? Do we have any way of controlling what happens with that data once it is digital? “

Panthea Lee of Reboot encourages us to think about “upstream data” (reporting) and “downstream data” (programming) as we plan our data-driven projects.
“Data is inherently messy. It’s a snapshot of information from a specific time and place. There is a lot of narrative and context and meaning that is embedded in data, that need to be drawn out through conversations. We have to understand decisionmaking, and then adapt and present the data to directly support it.”

And, just how to we get from innovation to Systematic change? The Terms of Reference Podcast tackles this for us.(click to listen)

(Image by Clockwise, Noun Project)


Data @ IFRC #1: Hurricane Matthew, Small Data, 5 minutes to learn

[ed. note: Data @ IFRC is a blog series to share highlights from data-driven Red Cross Red Crescent national societies, learning opportunities and thought pieces on all things data from ethics to evidence.]

Co-creating spaces and networks to get people involved with technology has always been my passion. At the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent, I am contributing to a movement-wide initiative to build a data-driven organization making evidence-based decisions. The role is leading Data Literacy Programs. For years, I’ve been building data learning and use into communities, software projects, NGOS and research institutes. Now, I have an opportunity to support a vibrant network. Join me on this journey as I write as we go. This is a prototype newsletter to serve the community. Feedback welcome.

Mapping with the American Red Cross

Around the world, mappers continue to add details to support efforts in Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. You can see real time edits by clicking this. Also see the overall edit statistics here is a link of global changesets. Some of the projects are being lead by the team at American Red Cross (you can see the progress on the HOTOSM Task Manager (Task Manager – a way for people to divide up the work.)

Number of OSM Contributors: 2,145
Number of Map Changes: 2,734,621
Total number of Changesets: 31,722

Mapping Haiti

More or Less 5 minutes to learn

1. How to build multi-line data viz from (3 minute video)

2. What is Data Science?
Everyone keeps changing the definition. Over at Data Science Central, they’ve aggregated a list of articles to help you wrap your head around it.

15 hours, more or less, to learn

Free: ESRI is hosting a MOOC “Going Places with GeoSpatial Analysis

Free: Data Visualization: Principles and Practices


Pie Charts Explained by XKCD
(Source: XKCD)

Big Ideas

How do we become data literate organizations? Well, over in the social media marketing world, Ryan Holmes is sharing tactics to help organizations become more digital literate. How can we build small interventions and big impacts within our organizations.
“The problem — this digital skills gap — was deeper and more pervasive than I realized.” – Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite.

What about small data?

With all this talk about big data, I have been waiting for more praise for small data. There is data nutrition (re:insights) in all types of data. Hamad Haddadi, former colleague, shared a book from some of the Small Data Lab folks: Small Data: tiny clues that uncover huge trends. (Added it to my reading list.)


“How to measure” and “what to measure” seems to be constant debate. The Social Progress Imperative launched their SDG( Sustainable Development Goals) measurement report card. Can we or should we use this methodology or a hybrid for NGO programs? And, should we even be measuring unlike things? A recent ICTWorks article shares some thoughts on the value of ranking systems:

“I have a proposal – it’s modest and unsolicited: stop funding rankings. Start, instead, funding internal capacity building workshops – invite experts, practitioners, and providers (whose time you pay for) to start from the issues and your context, and build practical, ethical, user-centered approaches from the ground up.” – Sean Martin MacDonald

Audio Book

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality – Cathy O’Neil

I’ve been listening to this audio book for a few weeks. When we think about barriers for using data in humanitarian response, it is always good to know what the machines are up to and some of the ethical questions to consider.

Help wanted

What kind of content would you like to see in my Data reports? Do you have links to share? Send it all my way – heatherleson at gmail dot com.


Innovation Matters…in the Hallways

The World Humanitarian Summit was a few weeks ago. People keep asking me for observations. My answer continues to be: Innovation matters in the hallways. There were side events, main delegate events and so many announcements. To me, the success of the event is more abstract. Yes, I agree with some of the observations and critiques that the Summit could have done more. But, really, some of this is up to us. One of the wins of the event was all the conversations between people who make things. It is the exposure to new ideas or new (old) ideas across so many disciplines.

innovation matters at WHS
(Photo: a snapshot of some of the Innovation Marketplace leaders.)

Consider this, what if we took all the vendors, researchers, innovators, creators and businesses in the Innovation Marketplace and Exhibition Marketplace and put them in the same room for 2 days or 4 months to make things? How many businesses would flourish? What would be the next steps? What if we could build things together irrespective of branding and funders? There are many partnerships, alliances and hubs being announced. This is the dream that some groups aim to build. Truly, I am excited about Humanity X, the Global Humanitarian Lab, the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation, especially if they work closely with the Near Network.

Here are some other articles that perked my interest about the outcomes of the World Summit:

What matters most is that those who build and make things continue to go forward. Our pace must now be full speed in complimentary streams with the organizations and in consultation with communities. The success measurement comes from how we use what we observed and learned to build better. As much as success is qualitative and abstract, I think if we did an 1 year or 5 years later informal assessment of all the organizations and individuals who make things, we might get the math people seek. Until then, keep doing is our motto.


Baking soda for your Social Entrepreneurship

[Ed. note: this blog post includes content for my talk at Reach out to Asia Empower 2016 panel with UNDP "Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship for the Sustainable Development Goals”, March 18, 2016]

When I started my career in internet technologies, I was confronted with a frequent bit of advice: “If you want to be successful, you need to move to Silicon Valley.” And, while I have visited San Francisco and the various amazing organizations this concept always struck me as confusing. Sure, there is much talent and opportunity, but isn’t there a world beyond? My journey for social impact has included working with and meeting many social entrepreneurs from around the world. They are my teachers. My role is really like “baking soda” for recipes. Successful programs require mentorship, well-defined problems and plans for long-term growth. Just think how much potential is around the world and why youth matters:

Take a moment to consider this: the majority of the world’s population is your age group (16 – 26) and there is also a high concentration of mobile internet use (see the GSMA 2015 report).

Fishless at ROTA March 2016
(Fishless is at Research to Asia Empower 2016)

Do hard things

Brck is a social entrepreneurship based in Nairobi, Kenya. One of their projects is to bring tablets to classrooms for learning. Their motto is “We do hard things”. Here in Doha at Reach out to Asia Empower 2016, I encourage the audience to also consider how we can have social impact aimed at the Sustainable Development Goals. This means focusing on an issue or topic that inspires you.

Be curious and meet allies

Your power is your curiousity. All around the world there are people creating social innovations and social entrepreneurship projects/businesses. This is your learning space – wide and full of potential. Who is doing a similar topic in a region that you could remix in your area? What tools and tactics are they using? What are some of the gaps and opportunities in your area? In the social entrepreneur space, if you do your homework there are many people who will answer questions and support you. We all have a common mission to do some good. Once you have an idea, then consider implementation in small, medium and large ways.

Pardon me, if this already exists, but one regular activity that think could be an outcome from Empower 2016 is to consider how to keep in touch with each other. Your power is with each other. Have you set up a WhatsApp group for the the topic that inspires you? Can you host a regular meetup (majlis) for coffee (karak) to brainstorm and co-create?

Empower main stage

Research and Technology communities can help

Many of you mind wonder what is Qatar Computing Research Institute doing for social entrepreneurship. We are a resource for this region. Staff have widespread experience in social computing research and technologies plus we are part of the local entrepreneur ecosystem.

Some recent research examples include: climate change (sentiment in Qatar), what your apps say about you, and aerial imagery for disasters/environmental action.

What does this mean for social entrepreneurs? Well, my former colleague Patrick Meier has set up a business with other experts called We Robotics. This group aims to use new technology for good with field training and big data analysis. One of the first projects they explored was with a university in Nepal. They will collaborate with FlyLabs around the world. The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team together with partners like Ramani Huria combining maps, urban planning and student power to make a difference in Dar es Salaam. Students and youth are instrumental in these projects. Combining digital and in person programmes, research can be a guiding force to help you review ideas, prototype and consider critical lessons for success.

It is true, I am often bias to technology solutions since this is my passion and field of expertise. However, I encourage you to create first without technology – nothing replaces the power of in person conversations, pen and paper. In today’s workshop, we will consider digital skills for good and how it can apply to your social entrepreneur efforts.

Your Data Journey for the SDGs

Qatar Dugong Club
(Grade 10 students from Albayan Secondary School, Doha Qatar. Photo with permission to publish)

Data is core to excellent storytelling and convincing programmes or businesses. Let’s take Fishless, for example, they are using art and design to convey a message: We are creating a world that will soon be fishless. What is the data behind that? In Canada, there is a ban on fishing cod in the Atlantic. This government policy was instituted after scientists and activists did the math. The fishery industry and many communities changed for this new reality. It is hard to consider a world with out fish. What are the data sources available in Qatar, for example, on fish resources. Another group here at Reach out to Asia is #QatarDugongs. This club aims to protect the dugongs. Their campaign to raise awareness is important. The partnership is fantastic. Students from Albayan Secondary School have a club #QatarDugongs. The partnership of Qatar University, Texas A & M and Exxon Mobil are working on a youth outreach program while conducting a dugong census project. This research data and community support will be invaluable for Qatar to meet goal 14 – Life below Water.

I created this list of resources and ways to get started on your data driven exploration. Consider using some of these tools and techniques to take aim the SDG that is your focus:


Empower Digital Skills & Literacy via Social Entrepreneurship

Hamad Bin Khalifa University is buzzing with creative ideas from young energetic social entrepreneurs. Reach out to Asia’s 8th Annual Empower event includes over 450 participants from around the region for workshops, talks aimed at fostering leadership and youth social entrepreneurship. Together with my colleagues from Qatar Computing Research Institute, Social Computing and Arabic Language Technology teams, we are here to share about research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Empower logo

Empower 2016 Workshops

Global Goals

Workshop 1: Digital Skills for Good

How can you learn digital skills for social good and humanitarian response? This skill-based workshop bridges three themes: social communications, social innovation and crowdsourcing. We partnered with the United Nations Development Programme to focus on Global Goals as guidance for social entrepreneurship activities.

We will conduct some exercises to explore data collection (keywords), online strategies, verification and visualization. Participants will be given resources to keep on learning after the workshop. We will focus on the global goals for climate action (#goal13), good health & well-being (#goal3) and affordable and clean energy (#goal7)

This workshop will be presented jointly by Heather Leson, Ji Kim Lucas, Irina Temnikova (QCRI) and Jennifer Colville (UNDP)

Workshop 2: Social Entrepreneurship: Improving Literacy in the Arab World through Ebooks for Children

In the workshop, participants will be introduced to the problem of improving literacy in the Arab world by bringing more interesting books into the hands of children. Using the newly developed Jalees Ebooks reader it will be demonstrated how technology opens the doors to new types of multimedia and interactive books. The participants will then enter a discussion on how social entrepreneurship could be applied to develop a library of interesting Arabic children books.

This workshop will be presented jointly by Wajdi Zaghouani, CMU-Q, and Stephan Vogel, QCRI. This topic falls under a number of Sustainable Development Goals, but Reduced Inequalities appears to be a good match. (#goal10)

Connecting youth to Social Impact, Entrepreneurship and Research

It is a true passion to help youth make a difference in their world on topics that matter. All around the Empower event there are great ideas from accessible parking spots with bar code alarms to Fishless (an intervention for Goal 14: Life Below Water), to Top Shabab (iread, Greenuse), to Education initiatives. Many of these programmes are youth driven. Our team at QCRI has been directly involved in capacity building and education for many years. We are here to share our knowledge and offer support to the flourishing community trying to make a difference in the world. And, who knows, maybe someday they will join the path of research for social impact. Thanks to the whole Reach out to Asia team for including us in this great event.

Empower Digital Skills for the SDGs and Social Entrepreneurship

We’ve tailored our workshop, which will be held on Friday, March 18th to inspire children from ages 16-26 to create programmes and social entrepreneurship aimed at solving big global issues one step at a time. See our slides with extensive notes.


What happens at a Research Institute?

Research institutes are vibrant and not always full dusty or abstract thoughts/activities. Every day can be a meander through brilliant ideas, prototypes and new science. March 2016 is gearing up to be research event month in Doha and for Qatar Computing Research Institute. We will be hosting and participating in a number of events. A few new papers are published which might perk interest. Plus, we have an open call for Summer Interns and Post-Docs to come learn with us. Consider this your window into the diversity of activities.

Book Plugged in Alex Tai noun_114556_cc

Upcoming Research Events

Most of these events are free. You just need to register in advance.

Annual Machine Learning and Data Analytics workshop (March 14 -15, 2016)

Empower: Reach out to Asia (March 17 – 19, 2016) Theme: Innovation and Youth Social Entrepreneurship (applications to attend are closed)
QCRI will host 3 workshops, have an exhibition booth and I am speaking.

MIT CSAIL QCRI workshop (March 20, 2016). Full day on research and a public lecture on Self-Driving Cars.

Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference (March 22 – 23, 2016)


Seeking Post-Docs – Come work with us

QCRI has a number of post-doc opportunities in the Social Computing Team. From health + mobile computing/social media to News Analytics to Online Gaming You can apply here.


Be a Summer Intern

Are you a local student studying computer science? Every year QCRI hosts students on all kinds of projects. An example from Social Computing is exploring instagram food photos. Applications are due between March 13 – 20, 2016. To learn more, we are hosting an info session:

summer internship mentor QCRI 2016


Explore some research

I work on the Social Computing team. This is a sample of some of the research from 2015.
Exploring Cyberbullying and Other Toxic Behavior in Team Competition Online Games

  • (paper)
  • (slide)

Twitter: A Digital Socioscope (book)


You Tweet What You Eat: Studying Food Consumption Through Twitter


The Mesh of Civilizations in the Global Network of Digital Communication


Processing Social Media Messages in Mass Emergency: A Survey


Surveillance & Modesty on Social Media: How Qataris Navigate Modernity and Maintain Tradition

(coming soon)


We’ll try and sleep in April, but until then, time to keep exploring and learning.

[Credit: Book icon courtesy of Alex Tai, Noun Project]

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