Summer of 2017 at DataKind Bangalore


Summer arrives early in India, stays long, and leaves many souls parched, longing for a splash of rain. While monsoon is far way off, our passionate volunteers at DataKind Bangalore have been keeping cool with mission-driven DataCorps projects, a successful Project Accelerator event, and a lively DataLearn session. Read on as we share the exciting highlights of an eventful season at our chapter.

Data for Good Accelerated

On April 16, at our fourth Project Accelerator event, we worked with  three mission-driven nonprofits to help brainstorm new ideas and potential solutions to their data challenges.  Each with a groundbreaking agenda for social good, these nonprofit partners will collaborate with DataKind Bangalore to put data science to work.

A precursor to the Project Accelerator was a sneak peek event, held in February 2017, to show and tell how we do data for good at DataKind Bangalore, which was summed up by our in-house design expert Rasagy Sharma in the following sketch:

About Our Nonprofit Partners at Project Accelerator

  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) champions the cause of right to information and justice. In its journey to improve access to information and justice for all, CHRI will now partner with DataKind Bangalore to harness the power of data to enhance their data pipeline for  research and reporting.
  • Karnataka Learning Partnership has developed a public platform to contribute to the cause of building better schools in the state of Karnataka. At DataKind, we are looking to assist this nonprofit in a variety of projects—from detecting anomalies in data to building prescriptive and predictive reports.
  • Pollinate Energy—a social business with operations in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Lucknow—works with people living in urban slums in India and helps them transition to affordable, solar-powered lanterns, cooktops, fans, and water filters. Its representatives will partner with DataKind Bangalore to address the challenge of detecting various urban poor communities via satellite images and other data proxies.

An Afternoon of Incubation
More than 80 data-savvy minds shared their enthusiasm and creativity to submit ideas to unique data challenges experienced by our partners. Participants formed three focus groups, one for each nonprofit, and pored over the sample data. Each focus group, led by a DataKind Bangalore volunteer, identified skill requirements to solve the problems at hand. 

Hosted by our longtime supporter Sahaj Software Solutions, this event marks the beginning of a new Sprint—a series of DataJam and DataDive events to build ingenious solutions to solve the big data problems of our partners.

Learning for Social Good

In our pursuit of building a community of learners and expanding our network of data do-gooders, we kicked off 2017 with an interactive DataLearn session. Led by our in-house expert Jayant Pahuja, this learning workshop in January provided an overview of the Bayesian modeling.

In this introductory session, participants played with dices and coins to learn about the Bayesian framework and discussed the pros and cons of Bayesian. Attended by more than 100 energetic participants, this session surely charged us up for an exciting year and whetted our appetite for data for good.

Volunteerism with Values

Our data for good mission is charged by the passion of our talented volunteers, and the spirit of our volunteerism is fueled by the core values of DataKind. The DataKind Bangalore Values award is a recognition program to express our gratitude to our extraordinary volunteers for demonstrating DataKind core values. We’re excited to announce the recipients of this award from this quarter.

Jay Kumar

Jay’s commitment to engage with our nonprofit partners has been exemplary. In the past year, he has gone the extra mile to lead a successful collaboration with Daksh India. Jay’s passion and commitment have resulted in Daksh investing more resources in opening up their data and plan more data-driven reports.

Jayan Pahuja
Fun & Approachable

Jayant has expertise in a variety of areas ranging from NLP to text detection in images to metric forecasting on a medium scale. He has been a spirited volunteer since 2015, juggling multiple projects and responsibilities. A noteworthy milestone of his volunteering journey at DataKind was his DataLearn session on Bayesian modeling in January 2017. In his partnership with Daksh India, Jayant has championed the task of analyzing the performance of district-level courts in India.

His zen-like perspective to crucial challenges and down-to-earth disposition are admired by our volunteers and nonprofit partners alike.

What’s Next

While the temperature in Bangalore keeps soaring with no monsoon in sight, we are excited about our upcoming DataJam and DataDive sessions. We are incredibly proud to see our nonprofit engagement grow, and we would love to see you at our events!

Join our Meetup to get involved.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and announcements.


Source: DataKind – Summer of 2017 at DataKind Bangalore

How Our Chapters Leaders Enable Powerful Collaborations

Guest blog: Heidi Hernandez Gatty, DataKind’s Senior Network Strategist

I’ve been here at DataKind for a little over a year now. But I’m not a data scientist. My background is in nonprofit infrastructure and networks of practice. For a little over 15 years, I’ve been looking at how nonprofits structure themselves from the inside out to maximize the good work they do in the world. It’s been a journey of helping nonprofit social entrepreneurs and infrastructure providers themselves learn from each other to increase the efficiencies and effectiveness of the nonprofits they serve.

At its heart, DataKind’s work depends on collaboration. For one of our projects to be successful, it takes input from experts of all walks – nonprofit leaders, subject matter experts, data scientists, coders, designers and more all come together on projects that apply data science to some of the toughest challenges out there. But these collaborations don’t just happen – they need space to take shape and encouragement to stick together.

From San Francisco to Singapore, our global network of Chapters exists to do just this. Primarily volunteer-led, our Chapters provide the space to mix and mingle and the great excuse for folks that don’t typically get to cross paths to come together, rub elbows and generate entirely new solutions together. Each DataKind Chapter has a small team of Chapter Leaders who are responsible for keeping the DataKind vision alive in their communities. They are supported by Core Volunteers who focus on finding new partners, bringing in new volunteers, and planning events. They in turn recruit and engage thousands of data scientists and other technology enthusiasts who come to those events, meet people, share ideas, and work together to make the world a better place. One data science project at a time.

I get the pleasure and honor of helping these collaborations grow and thrive across our Chapter Network. We sometimes call this role a “Network Weaver” as I have my eyes across the tapestry of DataKind’s work, pulling the right thread at the right time to make the pattern richer, more beautiful. While our volunteers already speak the same language of data science, they also have to learn the language of the nonprofit and charity sector, as well as the issue area they’re focused on to do their work effectively. In turn, our project partners – be they foundations, nonprofits, or social enterprises – become familiar with new lingo from Python to Pandas to p-values.

Deep collaboration like this takes time, trust, and engaged listening on all sides. Our Chapter Leaders enable this wonderful chemistry to take place by leading by example, representing some of the best servant leaders you could ever imagine. They exhibit compassion and caring – from helping two strangers strike up a conversation at a networking event, to demystifying the latest buzz words, to troubleshooting when a project has an obstacle to overcome. They are experts at bringing ideas to fruition and in following through to help seed the next stop on the journey.

What has been immensely exciting to see over the past year is the potential we have as a network to share learnings from our projects across the world. We can see patterns across cultures, over issue areas, and in the work itself. We have the opportunity to make work in homelessness in the Bay Area of California relevant and useful to homelessness in the UK. Our volunteer Chapter Leaders choose to spend their free time in communication with each other to build bridges and connections that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

At DataKind, we believe that data science, thoughtfully applied to humanity’s toughest issues, can make a real difference in the world. We’re so in awe of our Chapter Leaders that tirelessly dedicate their time to building relationships and bringing together talented, humble, awesome data science volunteers and social changemakers.

We’re Hiring!

Want to help even more of this data-driven collaboration goodness happen worldwide? We’re hiring a Community Engagement Manager to join our Network team and help inspire even more data science volunteers to give back. Apply >

Source: DataKind – How Our Chapters Leaders Enable Powerful Collaborations

The Power of Data and Collaboration to Improve Traffic Safety

Visualization of estimated “exposure” or traffic volume by street in Seattle.

According to the National Safety Council, traffic collisions cause more than 40,000 deaths and injure thousands of people every year across the United States. These are not traffic accidents, but entirely preventable tragedies.

Since cities in Sweden started the Vision Zero movement in the 1990s, many U.S. cities are now joining the effort as part of the Vision Zero Network, pledging to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries to zero in their communities.

With limited budgets and resources, these local city officials face a daunting question: what will it take to reach zero? Given the sheer number of factors that contribute to traffic collisions and the many potential interventions that might address them, where should a city focus its efforts? 

This is where a little bit of math, a few cross-sector friendships and a healthy dose of data can be a game changer. We recently completed our first Labs project, in partnership with Microsoft and its Tech & Civic Engagement Group, after over a year of work and close collaboration with the cities of New York, Seattle and New Orleans. This was the first and largest multi-city, data-driven collaboration of its kind to support Vision Zero efforts within the U.S.

Leveraging newly-available datasets including open data, internal city data and data from private companies, our Labs team – Erin Akred, Michael Dowd, Jackie Weiser and Sina Kashuk – as well as dozens of DataKind volunteers have built models to help cities identify where there is greater risk of traffic collisions, built tools to empower city officials to test what safety interventions will be most effective on what streets, and even helped cities estimate total vehicle traffic volumes citywide when the data didn’t exist. All these insights, tools and methodologies enable city officials to better allocate resources, select the best safety interventions and focus their efforts to keep all road users safe. Check out our case study  for more detail.

How Collaboration Made It All Possible

While we think the world of our Labs team, we also know they depend on a world of collaborators to get a job like this done. Applying data science for good requires that we bring together not only relevant data sets, but also relevant decision makers, technical and issue area experts, funders and advocates that can inform and help co-design solutions that will have an impact.

We like to think of it as an ecosystem. Tackling the complicated question of reducing traffic fatalities in three different cities requires more than just data and data scientists. You need a strong project focus and strong project partners. You need funding to fuel your journey and subject matter experts to guide your path. DataKind is the convener that connects the dots, bringing all these usually far-flung resources and people together.

Not only was Microsoft the funder that made our first ever Labs project possible, we also turned to them as subject matter experts in civic tech and as thought partners in organizing such a long-term, wide-reaching initiative. For more, check out this blog from Elizabeth Grossman, Director of Civic Projects for Microsoft’s Technology and Civic Engagement group.

We couldn’t have asked for stronger project partners than the amazing folks we worked with in New York, Seattle and New Orleans. Taking on a project like this shows not only how committed they are to making streets safer, but how forward-thinking they are in their approach. They are pioneering some of the most cutting-edge techniques available and we hope to inspire other cities to do the same. Special thanks to the many hours and wisdom each city contributed – we are so proud to have worked with each of you.

And a special thanks to all those that have supported and contributed to this initiative including the Vision Zero Network and the University of Washington for hosting our Vision Zero DataDive. 

More Resources Coming Soon

For more on our work in each city, read our case study and sign up to receive updates on several related resources coming in the next few weeks:

  • For those who like to get geeky, watch out for a technical report detailing some of the models and approaches from this project that may be applicable for your city.
  • For a look under the hood at the good, bad and the fascinating about what it takes to bring folks and data of all walks together for a collaboration of this scale, we’ll be publishing a blueprint with our favorite pro tips and pitfalls.
  • For those always asking “but how do we make it scalable?” – we knew there was a reason we liked you. This question also keeps us up at night so we’ll be sharing some research we’re doing with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on how other groups we greatly admire approach this.

Source: DataKind – The Power of Data and Collaboration to Improve Traffic Safety

Protecting Democratic Freedoms With Omidyar Network

In light of recent rhetoric and policy in the U.S. targeting immigrants, refugees, people of color and other vulnerable groups, we’re doing a call for proposals with Omidyar Network to bolster the efforts of organizations protecting these communities.

From helping organizations use data to better understand the impact of their programs, cut costs, better target resources or anticipate needs from their community, we can help with a variety of needs leveraging cutting edge technology and approaches.

If your organization is working to champion democratic freedoms and civil liberties in the U.S., we’d love to hear from you.

Learn more and apply by April 30th >

We’ll match selected organizations with a team of data scientists to work together on a long-term project starting in June.

Reach out to with any questions.

Source: DataKind – Protecting Democratic Freedoms With Omidyar Network

Celebrating Women’s Day: 33 Women in Data Science from around the World & AV Community

Introduction She Believed, she could. So, she did This Women’s Day we are celebrating the women power. We are celebrating all those women who …

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Introduction to Gradient Descent Algorithm (along with variants) in Machine Learning

Introduction Optimization is always the ultimate goal whether you are dealing with a real life problem or building a software product. I, as a …

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How to read most commonly used file formats in Data Science (using Python)?

Introduction If you have been part of data industry, you would know the challenge of working with different data types. Different formats, different compression, …

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#GivingTuesday DataDive Capacity

Thank you for your interest in joining us at the #GivingTuesday DataDive March 3-5 in partnership with 92Y and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation! Together, we’ll be using data to unravel tough questions and prototype new solutions to support social change through increased philanthropic giving. Because we may have a full house this weekend, please continue to check this blog for the latest updates on event capacity!

We’ll update the text below and the image above to let you know if we’re full or if we still have room for more DataDivers to attend.





Doors open 6:00pm!


What’s this #GivingTuesday DataDive all about?

#GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate giving of all kinds. Founded by 92Y in 2012 and celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday inspires people around the world to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and contribute in countless ways to the causes they believe in. On #GivingTuesday 2016, individuals, corporations and civic coalitions raised over $170 million to benefit a tremendously broad range of causes, and gave much more in volunteer hours, nonmonetary donations, and acts of kindness.

While #GivingTuesday’s reach has grown significantly over the past five years, philanthropic giving in the U.S. still has not risen above 2% GDP. If we could increase it by even 1%, the impact would be massive – almost $4 billion of additional funding for causes addressing tough social issues from poverty to healthcare to education and more. To understand what might motivate more people to give, volunteers will dive into data from #GivingTuesday 2016 to generate insights for a report that will be shared publicly. Philanthropic giving is what fuels social change – lend your skills to help unleash even more of this critical resource.

Collaborate and engage with some of the brightest minds in data science, social change and technology as you work in teams to analyze, visualize, and mashup fascinating data sets to create real world change. We believe data has the power to change the world, but only when we all work together. Join us for a data adventure like you’ve never seen and get ready to make friends, build skills and help unleash the power of data to serve humanity!

Source: DataKind – #GivingTuesday DataDive Capacity

Introductory guide on Linear Programming for (aspiring) data scientists

Introduction Optimization is the way of life. We all have finite resources and time and we want to make the most of them. From …

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5 More Deep Learning Applications a beginner can build in minutes (using Python)

Introduction Deep Learning is fundamentally changing everything around us. A lot of people think that you need to be an expert to use power of …

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