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The Projects of DSSG 2014

By Rob Mitchum // June 30, 2014

As of today, the Data Science for Social Good fellowship is one-third of the way done. In their downtown Chicago headquarters, 48 fellows from around the world are hard at work with project partners from the non-profit and government sectors, helping them solve problems and get the most value out of their data. On the Data Science for Social Good website, the first round of projects have been announced with a small blurb describing the summer goals of each team. Topics this year range from education to energy efficiency, worldwide corruption to natural conservation, reducing lead exposure to reducing homelessness, and enrolling those without health insurance to connecting patients with services outside of the health care system. Here are three samples of the Data Science for Social Good projects, visit their projects page or the DSSG blog to read about the rest.


World Bank Group – Prediction & Identification of Collusion in International Development Projects

The World Bank Group lends billions of dollars every year to fund large infrastructure projects around the globe. Project-related contracts are awarded to companies and entities via open and competitive bidding processes. Such processes can sometimes be subject to collusion and corruption risks.

Working with data on major contract awards and projects, we will help develop a model that predicts potential collusion cases. The model will look for anomalous patterns of bidding and spending and subsequently alert the organization’s Integrity Unit to take a closer look at potentially suspicious behavior.



Enroll America, Get Covered Illinois – Targeting the Uninsured for Health Insurance Enrollment

During the first open enrollment period under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA), over 8 million people obtained health insurance. But an estimated 13.4% of Americans remain uninsured, including over 1 million residents of Illinois. Enroll America is a nonprofit organization focused on maximizing the number of Americans who are enrolled in and retain health coverage. Get Covered Illinois is the official health marketplace for Illinois and is the federal partner responsible for leading all ACA education, outreach and enrollment efforts statewide. In its first year, Get Covered Illinois and its over 200 statewide grant funded partners enrolled over half a million Illinoisans in the Health Marketplace and ACA Expanded Medicaid program.

The two organizations are working together to help identify and engage Illinois’ uninsured population in preparation for the next open enrollment period, from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. Using the databases of both of these groups, we will construct models of the best channels of communication and key messaging to reach the different subpopulations of the uninsured in Illinois and other states. These models will help inform their collective outreach strategies and support their continued efforts under the ACA to bring health coverage to all Americans.


Chicago Department of Public Health – Targeting Proactive Public Health Inspections

Lead paint and leaded gasoline were banned in the United States in the 1970s because of the enormous public health dangers lead poses. In the decades since, it has become clear that even small amounts of exposure to lead during childhood can cause behavior or attention problems, learning difficulties, speech and language problems, reduced IQ and failure at school.

Over the past several decades, Chicago has made great strides in preventing exposure to lead. Even with this progress, there is more work to be done. In 2013, it is estimated that almost 9000 children in Chicago had been exposed to levels of lead that the CDC classifies as dangerous, and that most of this exposure happened in the home.

DSSG has partnered with the Chicago Department of Public Health to help find the homes that are most likely to still contain lead-based paint hazards. By building statistical models that predict exposure based on evidence such as the age of a house, the history of children’s exposure at that address, and economic conditions of the neighborhood, CDPH and their partners can link high-risk children and pregnant women to inspection and lead-based paint mitigation funding before any harm is done. This integrated and innovative system will ensure resources are used most efficiently, and ultimately will mean healthier Chicago children.

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