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Using Data Science for Common Good

By Rob Mitchum // July 30, 2014

As the Data Science for Social Good fellowship begins its third and final month, it is beginning to attract the attention of local media. In mid-July, WBEZ reporter Chris Hagan stopped by DSSG headquarters at State and Jackson and spoke with fellows and mentors working on projects with Chicago Public Schools, Enroll America, the City of Memphis, and more. His story ran on WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift earlier this week, and can be heard below as part of the station’s Tech Shift podcast.

Hagan also published a longer interview with DSSG director Rayid Ghani about how to define the growing field of “data science,” and how DSSG and similar efforts are nudging young people proficient in analytics, programming, and other quantitative skills towards work that benefits the world.

The problems are not new, the data is the new thing and I think initially people get attracted to new things, but when that initial hype settles done it comes down to solving the real problems that you have.

We’re still in the data fascination stage. We’re moving to the problem phase, where what’s really important right now is for people who have the problems to make sure that people with the skills to solve these problems know about these problems.

For more on the Data Science for Social Good fellowship, visit the website, where recent blog posts have covered a hackathon for “evil,” the unique challenges of developing a statistical model for social good, and projects on predicting school enrollment, decoding consumer-friendly information from smart meters, and finding new ways to reach uninsured Americans.

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