Ingredients of a Thriving Chapter

By the DataKind Bangalore team

Happy New Year from DataKind Bangalore! As we head into 2017 and our third year as a chapter, we’ve been reflecting on the successes of 2016 and how much our community of over 1200 volunteers and project partners has accomplished together. But what makes a successful DataKind Chapter? For us, there are a few key ingredients. Check out highlights below and get excited for the year ahead!

1 – Volunteers That Embody Our Values

Volunteers are at the center of DataKind’s work. DataKind Bangalore is entirely volunteer-led, supported by a team of committed and talented people that exemplify DataKind’s values. Because they are always going above and beyond, we created the monthly DataKind Bangalore Awards to recognize their specific contributions. Get inspired by our November and December winners!

Chetana Amancharla
A Senior Technology Architect at Infosys, Chetana works on application development, software process engineering and program management. Chetana has been an incredible addition to the DataCorps team for Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability. She has been building and refining various data visualizations for the tool, polishing our user interface with her great eye for design and detail. And she does all of this on top of her career and Saturday classes, all while taking care of her 8-year-old son. Her knowledge, expertise and commitment is truly an inspiration for the whole community.

Sahil Maheshwari
Diversity and Expertise
An Engineer and MBA, a few minutes conversing with Sahil is enough for anyone to realize that he is an expert data scientist. With his wide ranging knowledge in statistics and probability, he has been instrumental in the eGovs DataCorps project. A fast learner, he’s also generous in sharing his knowledge and gave a workshop on statistics for the Chapter. His motivation to try out new things inspires all of us to do the same. We’re grateful to have someone with such a rich skillset and rich love of learning with us.

Suchismita Naik
An engineer-turned-designer, Suchismita has been leading design work for our CBGA’s DataCorps project. She exemplifies a great passion and commitment to the work and is always ready to try out those last-minute design suggestions (No matter how cumbersome they seem!) Apart from being the creative brain of the project, she brings great enthusiasm and vigor to the team, making her a fun and energizing teammate to work with.

Murugesan Ramakrishnan
A consultant at Fractal Analytics, Murugesan is absolutely fantastic to work with. With an immense will to learn and almost limitless energy, he keeps the eGovernments DataCorps team moving full speed ahead. He’ll git at 2am or on weekdays, blowing us away by how much he accomplishes in addition to his demanding job.


2 – High Impact Project Partners

Partner organizations are our vehicle for impact so we depend on their subject matter expertise to inform our volunteers work. We’ve had the honor of working with many incredible organizations this past year, but we’re especially excited to launch two long-term DataCorps projects in 2016 that will be wrapping up soon:

Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA)
is a civil society organization that promotes transparent, accountable, and participatory governance, and a people-centered perspective in the preparation and implementation of budgets. CBGA has been building Open Budgets India, a data portal to make India’s budgets open, usable and easy to comprehend. The DataKind Bangalore team is co-creating a Story Generator Tool that helps users browse visualizations across various state-level fiscal indicators and schemes. The project is still in progress and the beta version of the tool is expected to launch in February.
Check out the source code and documentation >

eGovernments Foundation transforms urban governance with the use of scalable and replicable technology solutions. Using four years of data from the Chennai municipal corporation’s public grievance portal, we hope to build a problem forecasting and alerting system to predict trends and generate alerts at ward levels for better urban governance.
Check out the source code and documentation >


3 – A Community of Learning

Any good data scientist or social innovator embraces continuous learning, which is why we were excited to launch DataLearn –  a series of of talks, workshops and discussions that brought together some of the best names in the data science and social good community.

From creative hacks of Machine Learning – which viewed machine learning and artificial intelligence through the lens of creative subversion to Data Visualization and Storytelling with Data to the open data environment in India and ethics, we covered a variety of topics. We also hosted skill-building workshops, including statistical analysis with R, exploring data with pandas, text mining and Natural Language Processing and web scraping with R.

And true to our word about sharing learnings, we recorded many of these talks!

Check out our YouTube video series to learn more >

And The Last Ingredient? You!

In 2017, we are looking forward to exciting collaborations with more project partners, more values-driven volunteers and learning even more with our community, but we need you to make it a success! Stay tuned for more DataLearn sessions on Bayesian statistics and inference, time series modeling, developments in Deep Learning and more, as well as DataDives and collaborations with NGOs in interesting domains.

Join our Meetup to get involved! >

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and announcements!

Source: DataKind – Ingredients of a Thriving Chapter

A Big Welcome to DataKind’s Newest Board Member!

We’re thrilled to announce the addition of Elizabeth Grossman to DataKind’s esteemed Board of Directors, a team of top minds and dedicated champions in the Data for Good movement.

Director of Civic Projects in the Technology and Civic Engagement group at Microsoft Corporation, Elizabeth helps design and execute long-term, strategic partnerships for Microsoft that leverage technology to make a sustainable and scalable impact on local and global civic priorities. She has also worked on policy and societal impacts of emerging technologies and governmental science and research program design with universities and scientific societies as well as at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and the National Academy of Sciences. 

A longtime friend, collaborator and supporter of DataKind, Elizabeth worked with us on the very first DataKind Labs projects to advance the Vision Zero movement, to reduce traffic-related deaths and severe injuries to zero, in three U.S. cities – New York, Seattle and New Orleans.

Her knowledge and expertise in areas such as civic engagement, partnership design, smarter and more sustainable cities, research and technology policy, data sharing and government ecosystems will be indispensable in helping further DataKind’s work and mission, particularly on larger, civic and sector-wide projects like Vision Zero.

With the guidance of our devoted Board of Directors, now five-strong with Elizabeth, and the help of our talented and amazing volunteer community, DataKind finds itself approaching another phase of growth; with more staff, increased chapter engagement, and a thriving volunteer network – all paving the way for more projects and opportunities to harness the power of data science in the service of humanity.

Please take a minute to join us in congratulating Elizabeth and officially welcoming her to DataKind!

Source: DataKind – A Big Welcome to DataKind’s Newest Board Member!

Announcing a New Partnership (and DataDive!) with SAS

It’s official. SAS is the newest member of the DataKind family. Now, SAS is no stranger to DataKind. Our founder and executive director Jake Porway has had the honor of taking the stage at two SAS events, most recently the SAS Analytics Experience. We’ve also collaborated to help Boston Public Schools shorten school bus rides and lower costs and, like many friends do, even dodged our fair share of T-Rexes together.

SAS is also no stranger to the Data for Good movement. As Jake himself has said about SAS, “Data for good is in the DNA of this organization.” The company was actually founded helping farmers analyze agricultural data and has been involved in data for social good efforts from finding resources to rebuild a community in Nepal to helping improve patient care.

We are delighted to be partnering with such a kindred spirit on our first ever DataDive in North Carolina April 28-30, 2017 in Cary, NC!

Nonprofits, apply by January 16th for a weekend of pro bono data consulting!

We’re currently looking for project partners to work with and want to hear from any data-loving nonprofits, social enterprises or other social change organizations that are interested in seeing how data can maximize their impact. DataKind will consult with your organization to define your needs and connect you with a team of expert data scientists (including SAS employees!) to get the job done in just 48 hours.

New to data science? Not a problem. While companies like Netflix and Amazon use it to predict which movies we’ll like or recommend the perfect holiday gift, nonprofits are now using the same technology and techniques to instead reach more children in need or predict and prevent human rights violations, furthering their missions like never before.

DataDives are a fun way to start exploring, visualizing and getting the most from your data so you can cut costs, reach more people in need and predict future conditions to best allocate resources. Many DataDives even lead to longer-term projects and are often just the start of a beautiful friendship.

Let the data adventure begin! Nonprofits, apply by January 16 >

Excited to join us as a volunteer? Mark your calendars and get excited – volunteer registration opens in February. Stay tuned!

Source: DataKind – Announcing a New Partnership (and DataDive!) with SAS

A look back at DataKind UK's 2016

We’re sure many of you are looking forward to the festive season and waving goodbye (and good riddance) to 2016. Here at DataKind UK, we’d like to take a moment to reflect and appreciate all the good stuff that happened this year.

2016 was all about growth and impact. We doubled our number of staff by welcoming Lauren Smith as our Project & Events Coordinator and grew our brilliant team of Chapter Leaders with Kate Vang, Billy Wong and Gianfranco Cecconi joining Rishi Kumar. We got much smarter at selecting and scoping projects, as well as testing new event formats. We ran one-day DataDives for single projects. We experimented with DataJams – a day of data wrangling to better understand the data at hand. Behind the scenes, we’ve been working in partnership with Data Orchard to survey 200 UK charities and social enterprises, interviewing 12 of them to produce a data maturity framework that will be launched in 2017.


We’re pleased to have partnered on projects with the following organisations over the last year. We also provided light touch advice and support to a further 15 charities and social enterprises.


2016 Events Roundup

We’ve had a packed calendar of events from DataDives to DataJams. Find out more below!


DataDive: Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation



Meetup: When the rubber hits the road:

the highs and lows of small data


Workshop: Data Evolution London Workshop            

Workshop: Data Evolution Hereford Workshop


Meetup: When good algorithms go bad…

DataDive: Shared Assets & the Ecological Land Co-operative

blog post here


DataJam: National Council for Voluntary Organisations

Meetup: Data-for-good Summer Social



DataDive: Autumn DataDive




Meetup: data+visual

DataDive: Marks and Spencer

(Internal event for analysts and their charity partners)

blog post here


DataJam and DataDive: DataDiving into

Company Ownership with Global Witness

blog post here



Meetup: Who owns UK companies?   





Project Highlights


  • During a one day DataDive, the Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation (CPF) sought to better understand the smallholder famers they support. For example, the volunteer data scientists showed which factors correlate with higher incomes and how farmers adopt different agricultural practices and innovate. CPF continued working with one of our volunteers on a consultancy basis and they are now figuring out how to empower smallholder farmers to use their own data to inform their businesses.
  • Shared Assets are developing the prototype we produced at a DataDive with our friends over at Outlandish. They are building a platform to explore UK land data because good information on land is crucial to making good decisions about it. Many common good land users struggle to access the information they need e.g. who owns the land, what has it been used for, or where to find new project sites. The prototype pulls together dozens of open data sets enabling common good land users to identify and compare different sites on a range of characteristics, saving them time and money while helping them to make smarter, data-informed decisions.
  • Global Witness managed to get three separate organisations (Open Corporates, OCCRP and the Spend Network) to bring data to a DataDive in November. 50 data scientists descended on the newly released beneficial ownership data showing, for example, that thousands of UK companies are owned by other companies in tax havens and some of these tax-haven-owned companies are in receipt of government contracts.

Things we’re excited about in 2017


  • We’re busy prepping for a DataDive with the NSPCC next year in partnership with Credit Suisse (huge thank you to Ben Wilkinson at Credit Suisse for his personal donation to support this work).
  • Watch out Newport – we’re headed your way. We’ll be DataDiving with the Office of National Statistics next year.
  • There’s an exciting schedule of monthly Meetups starting on 24th January – save the date and sign up to our Meetup page to find out more.
  • We’ll be launching an organisational data maturity model for the social sector that we’ve developed with Data Orchard.
  • Plus we’ve got a couple of DataCorps projects up our sleeves. Volunteers will be needed – watch this space!


Source: DataKind – A look back at DataKind UK’s 2016

Predicting Wheat Rust in Ethiopia with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Cultivated by about five million households, wheat is an important crop in Ethiopia as both a source of income for small farmers and a source of food and nutrition for millions of Ethiopians. Despite the country’s huge potential to grow wheat, the average wheat productivity of 2.5 tonnes per hectare is lower than the global average of 3 tonnes per hectare. This is due in part to recurrent outbreaks of a fungal disease called wheat rust that causes devastating pre-harvest losses.

Several international development agencies have been supporting scientists to study the spread of wheat rust as part of their efforts to increase agricultural productivity and reduce hunger and poverty for millions of farming families in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, it can be challenging to even know where wheat rust croplands are located in Ethiopia, as the field survey data that exists is incomplete and costly to collect.

Given advances in satellite imagery, we wondered – is it possible to detect wheat rust from space so that an early warning system could be developed to predict and prevent future outbreaks?

Last August, we held a DataDive with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle this question and more. Using a combination of survey data, remote sensing data and satellite imagery, a DataDive volunteer team was able to develop a proof of concept statistical model using survey data to distinguish severe yellow rust from no rust (of any type) with about 82% accuracy. A model like this could enable governments, funding agencies and researchers to better detect the spread of the disease and evolution of new strains of pathogens, and more quickly deploy protective measures to help farmers and their communities.

We’re pleased to announce we’re continuing our work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will be kicking off a long-term multi-phase project to develop a more accurate predictive model using a combination of satellite imagery, multispectral imaging and computer vision techniques. The goal of the first phase of the project is to find a way to automatically detect wheat cropland.

Satellite Imagery Experts, Join Us!

We’re looking for a team of volunteers, including satellite imagery and machine learning experts, to help work on this project over the next several months. If you have significant experience in these areas and would like to contribute, email Sina Kashuk, DataKind’s Data Scientist managing the project, at with details on your background. 

Source: DataKind – Predicting Wheat Rust in Ethiopia with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Get Involved – Monthly Roundup!

Eager to flex your data skills for good? Each month, we do a roundup of volunteer opportunities through DataKind and other organizations around the world!

Don’t see anything in your area? Check out DataLook’s definitive guide to doing data science for good and our Data4Good Kit for help getting started.

DataKind Opportunities 

Satellite Imagery Volunteers – We need your help on our newest project launching in December with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation! Email to get involved.

Web Developer Volunteers – We need a front-end web developer to help on one of our DataCorps projects. Email to get involved.

SAVE THE DATE! DataDive – March 3-5, New York City
New York – it’s high time for a DataDive! RSVPs to open in January – stay tuned.

SAVE THE DATE! DataDive – April 28-30, North Carolina
We’re co-hosting our first ever North Carolina DataDive. RSVPs to open in February – more details soon!

Upcoming Events and Conferences 

DataKind’s Jake Porway at Stanford Social innovation Review (SSIR) Data on Purpose/Do Good Data conference – Feb 7-8, Stanford, CA
Join Jake and other data experts, academics, practitioners, and social sector leaders for two days of skillfully-led sessions on topics ranging from aligning practice with policy to creating a culture of data, and how Silicon Valley is facilitating data practices in civil society.
Learn more >

Beyond DataKind – Our Top Picks To Get Involved 

Data Science for Good: Support America’s Warrior Partnership – Dec 9, College Park, MD
Join Immuta for a Hackathon to support the America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP). AWP works to help communities to empower veterans by providing a community based program offering a proactive approach to serving Veterans. Bring your data skills and get ready to dive into datasets to assist AWP in forwarding its vision and goals. Help AWP organizations effectively find Veterans in an area, identify factors that lead to more successful outcomes for Veterans, better predict needs for follow up actions, determine the probability of success related to various services, and help prevent homelesenses.
Sign up >

beyond.uptake Data Fellows Program – Dec 9 Deadline
Social enterprises are attacking some of the biggest problems in the world. But there is a lack of professional development and mentoring for data professionals at social enterprises. To help, beyond.uptake has introduced a four-month Data Fellows Program designed to connect data leaders in nonprofits to experts in data science; providing them with the opportunity to hone their data skills and network with like-minded data for good professionals. Apply now!
Apply >

Become a Data & Society Fellow! – Dec 19 Deadline
Our friends at Data & Society are assembling its fourth class of fellows to further its mission of producing rigorous research that can have impact, and supporting and connecting the young but growing field of actors working on the social, cultural, and political effects of data.
Apply >

IBM Watson AI XPRIZE – Jan 19 Deadline
How can artificial intelligence solve the world’s grandest challenges in health, learning, energy, exploration and global development? The IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, a $5 million global competition to develop life-changing human + AI collaborations launched by IBMWatson and XPRIZE, aims to answer this question. Take the challenge!
Register >

The Measured Summit: Measuring the Impact of Social Design on Human Health – Jan 24, New York, NY
Does human centered design lead to better health outcomes? Does it make patients smarter and more informed? Can it make health care companies more innovative and successful? Can it improve delivery of products and services? Find out at The Measured Summit. Join leaders in philanthropy, business, healthcare, research and design as they create a shared approach to understanding how design can become a more powerful tool for systems-level transformation.
Get Tickets >

Become a Data Science for Social Good Fellow! – Jan 31 Deadline
Another friend, University of Chicago’s Data Science for Social Good program, is now recruiting its next class of fellows. Join as a fellow, a mentor, a project manager, or partner!
Apply >

DrivenData Machine Learning Competitions (virtual) – Ongoing
Check out DrivenData’s online challenges, usually lasting 2-3 months, where a global community of data scientists competes to come up with the best statistical model for difficult predictive problems that make a difference.
Sign up >

Source: DataKind – Get Involved – Monthly Roundup!