DataKind SG provides pro bono data science and analytics services to the international social good community, helping these organizations with everything from learning from text messages sent by teens in crisis to tracing the roots of homelessness for government assistance programs.
But things are different close to the front line here in Southeast Asia. Poverty, malnutrition, and exploitation—still very much a part of the region—coupled with with underdeveloped (but rapidly growing) digital infrastructure means that the typical organization DataKind SG consults with is dealing with some of the most impoverished people in the world yet collects little or no data, especially in digital form.
Raymond Chan shares the trials and tribulations encountered when operating in such a challenging environment, sharing case studies of organizations that have been helped using lean data techniques, initiatives like collaborating with Open Data ASEAN on projects where open data substitutes for NGO collected data, and DataLearn sessions, in which DataKind SG shares its data skills with others in the community.
Doing data science for large multinationals is hard. Doing data science for underfunded NGOs is harder still, but the greatest gains to the common good are best served by helping the weakest move up.
Raymond Chan is the principal data scientist at the Tao of Shop, where he champions data science and analytics techniques. As part of a startup applying Agile methodology, he works with a number of software engineers to fully integrate his algorithms into productions systems with little hierarchical bureaucracy. His primary expertise is in building mathematical models for decision making during movement, which he developed as a postdoc at Baylor College of Medicine and a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. When not data sciencing at his day job, Raymond is a core lead with DataKind SG, donating his time to NGOs that need data science or analytics support, such as the Committee for UN Women, Phandeeyar—the Myanmar tech hub, and HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics), based in Singapore. Raymond holds a PhD in Informatics from the University of Leipzig.
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