By Rob Mitchum // March 19, 2013
“Civic hacking” has become a popular way for people skilled in programming and data crunching to give back to their community. Through organized Hack-a-thons or groups such as Open City and Code for America, volunteers imaginatively transform enormous tables of numbers into user-friendly web and mobile tools that bring localized and interactive information about a city to its citizens. From simple questions such as “has my street been plowed yet?” to more complex visualizations of zoning laws or crime patterns, these apps are changing the interaction between cities and their residents and creating an exciting new spirit of civic participation.
This summer, the Computation Institute will further nurture these efforts with the Data Science for Social Good fellowship. From early June to late August, aspiring data scientists will be brought to Chicago to work on the application of data and computation to urgent real-world problems with members of the Obama campaign analytics team and experts from the business world and academia, including the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and the Urban Center for Computation and Data. Projects addressing questions in education, health, energy, transportation and other spheres will be developed in interdisciplinary teams overseen by an advisory team including Google’s Eric Schmidt and Rayid Ghani, chief scientist for Obama 2012.
PhD, masters or advanced undergraduate students, software engineers and people with statistics, programming and data skills are encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is April 1st, and all the information required can be found at the fellowship’s website. The fellowship is also seeking experienced mentors and partners, who should e-mail the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!