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Stats4Good: UN International Computing Centre Supports Global D4G Projects

1 November 2021 No Comment

David CorlissWith a PhD in statistical astrophysics, David Corliss is lead, Industrial Business Analytics, and manager, Data Science Center of Excellence, Stellantis. He serves on the steering committee for the Conference on Statistical Practice and is the founder of Peace-Work, a volunteer cooperative of statisticians and data scientists providing analytic support for charitable groups and applying statistical methods in issue-driven advocacy.

The United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) is an agency with global scope that provides data solutions for United Nations (UN) programs and initiatives. It covers a wide variety of areas in Data for Good—from health initiatives to poverty and hunger programs to sustainable development goals and more—through three main channels: client services; information security; and analytics and data management.

UNICC partners with many organizations and governments around the world, which makes it a valuable resource for Data for Good initiatives. Learn more about UNICC and its resources.

In addition to providing data services and infrastructure for UN organizations and initiatives, UNICC organizes hackathons and other events with participation from teams worldwide. In February, UNICC’s data and analytics program hosted its first global hackathon with 140 participants in 54 teams from 13 countries.

Getting Involved
An opportunity this month comes from Chief Data Officer (CDO) Magazine, which has announced a new awards program for Data for Good projects from around the world.

This is a great opportunity to show off service projects in industry. CDO Magazine is looking for projects that address “global challenges by using data to achieve a better and more sustainable future.” Nominations are open now; submissions will be accepted through January 1, 2022. You can nominate your own project or one from another person or team. Nominations are featured on the CDO award website. Finalists and winners will be selected by voting on the website. So, submit a Data for Good project you support and vote for great D4G ideas.

Teams of university students worked on Data for Good challenges in one of three areas: finding patterns in the COVID-19 pandemic; predicting forced displacement; and creating data visualizations on UN achievements. Teams worked with UNICC subject matter experts from the UN refugee and development programs. Several leading tech companies supported the hackathon, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, giving hackathon participants the opportunity to work with their data and analytics teams, as well.

Six teams were selected as finalists and presented their work in a global virtual meeting. Winning entries included an all-female team from India with a data visualization on expenditures by UN organizations for gender equality. The award for the predicting forced displacement challenge went to a team from the University of Salento in Italy, which used a random forest regressor to find a solution.

UNICC also partnered with Columbia University to organize a thinkathon. This summer program saw teams of university students and alumni work together to develop and propose solutions addressing sustainable development goals. Unlike a hackathon, these are not exclusively technological solutions, but Data for Good can play a vital role.

For the first thinkathon, 17 teams developed projects in one of three areas: gender quality; cyber security; and disaster preparedness. Subject matter experts from UNICC, Columbia, and the private sector mentored each team. At the end of the summer, finalists gave a five-minute pitch for their projects to judges and a global audience. Team Agritech was the winner of the first thinkathon, with a disaster preparedness project for a sustainable disinfection system using ozone.

The runner up and audience choice winners were both Data for Good projects. Logista Emergency Response developed a solution to collect logistic information following a disaster and providing it to response teams. The audience choice award went to The Bulb, a set of virtual networking platforms to fight discrimination and violence against women.

UNICC is a large organization with many career opportunities supporting UN goals, initiatives, and partnerships. You can see current opportunities and get details on their careers page. The page lists all openings, so you will need to screen for D4G positions. Since this is the UN, job postings are found from around the world, with many in New York City. Students interested in the work of UNICC will want to watch the internships posted at the bottom of the careers page.

Learn more about Stats4Good by listening to the November episode of Practical Significance. Ron Wasserstein and Donna LaLonde interview both David Corliss and Statistics Without Borders Chair Davina Durgana.

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