Social Innovation

Learn more about our projects.
Read our new book Digital Humanitarians.

Why Social Innovation?

The overflow of information generated during disasters can paralyze humanitarian response efforts just like lack of information does. Computers, mobile phones, social media, mainstream news, earth-based sensors, humanitarian drones and orbiting satellites generate vast volumes of data during major disasters. Making sense of this flash flood of information, “Big Data”, is proving an impossible challenge for traditional humanitarian organizations. To meet this challenge, QCRI’s Social Innovation Program partners directly with humanitarian organizations around the world to develop the next generation humanitarian technologies they need to make sense of “Big Data." Our humanitarian technologies are also directly applicable to a wide range of other social good initiatives, ranging from wildlife protection and election monitoring to building resilient societies and flying drones for good.

A list of our ongoing projects is available here. The video below also introduces some of our flagship technologies, which have also been featured in Science, New Scientist, Nature, Wired, Mashable, Tech Crunch, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, CNN, BBC, Forbes Magazine, Times Magazine, Reuters, UK Guardian, Al Jazeera and elsewhere.



Our Social Innovation Strategy

QCRI's Social Innovation Program currently focuses on four applied research tracks:

1) Social Good Doha: Applying social innovation locally for meaningful social impact

2) Humanitarian: Enabling humanitarian organizations to improve their relief efforts

3) Development: Supporting poverty-reduction strategies of development organizations

4) Resilience: Providing cities with the means to monitor city resilience in real-time

As an institute for advanced computing research, development and prototyping, our comparative advantage lies in Data Science, Big Data Analytics, Social Computing, Machine Learning, Computational Social Science, Machine Translation and Language Technologies. We thus approach social challenges through the lens of Human Computing (crowdsourcing, microtasking, etc) and Machine Computing (natural language processing, machine learning, etc). The purpose of our Social Innovation Program is to apply our world-class expertise to address and positively impact major challenges around the world.

We do this through extensive series of direct consultations with humanitarian, development and environmental organizations during which we jointly identify the most pressing challenges they are facing. This process is critical and takes time; it is not rushed. A careful approach to identifying, scoping and defining the applied research agenda is imperative. The process is one of co-creation. With the agenda jointly defined, QCRI forms a dedicated Solution Team for the given research questions, selecting advanced computing experts from across our research groups including Big Data Analytics, Social Computing and Language technologies.

The Solution Team carries out the applied research & development (R&D) and prototyping through a series of well-defined phases. The first phase of our social innovation process seeks to answer the research questions jointly formulated with our partners. The findings from this phase serve as proof of concept and thus inform the second phase of our work--namely the development of a prototype. The third phase entails the piloting and co-deployment of this prototype with our partners. The results are then used to develop more robust and targeted platforms; this completes phase four. The fifth and final phase involves the spin-off and scaling of the platform through strategic partnerships. All prototypes and platforms developed for Social Innovation purposes are free and open source.

  • To learn more about our projects, click here.

For more information, contact Dr. Patrick Meier, QCRI's Director of Social Innovation, at pmeier@qf.org.qa, send him a tweet @patrickmeier or follow his blog iRevolutions.  You can also contact Heather Leson, Program Manager of Social Innovation, at hleson@qf.org.qa, or tweet her @heatherleson.   Other great people on the Social Innovation team to contact are:

Dr. Carlos Castillo, Senior Scientist, ccastillo@qf.org.qa, @ChaToX
Ji Lucas, Senior Software Engineer, jlucas@qf.org.qa, @jikimlucas
Dr. Koushik Sinha, Senior Software Engineer ksinha@qf.org.qa
Dr. Muhammad Imran, Scientist, mimran@qf.org.qa, @mimran15
Dr. Sarah Vieweg, Scientist, svieweg@qf.org.qa, @velofemme

For technical or informational questions, please send an email to QCRI Careers with the name of the group to whom you’re directing your question, e.g. ALT, CS&E, Cyber Security, Data Analytics, Distributed Systems or Social Computing, in the subject line.

Follow Us

  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS Feed
  • Linkedin
  • github-web.png
Back to Top

In the Media

Forbes fake news pic.jpg

Can AI Put An End To Fake News? Don't Be So Sure

07/10/2018

Fake news was the Collin’s word of the year for 2017 with good reason. In a year where politics-as-usual was torn apart at the seams, high-profile scandals rocked our faith in humanity and the ...

Read More

roadtracer.png

MIT/QCRI system uses machine learning to build road maps

22/04/2018

Map apps may have changed our world, but they still haven’t mapped all of it yet. Specifically, mapping roads can be difficult and tedious: even after taking aerial images, companies still have to ...

Read More

Economist story pic.JPG

Improving disaster response efforts through data

08/02/2018

Extreme weather events put the most vulnerable communities at high risk. How can data analytics strengthen early warning systems and and support relief efforts for communities in need? The size and ...

Read More

Events

2019

MLDAS 2019 Promo Web.JPG

(MLDAS 2019) Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium

Download ICS File 01/04/2019  - 02/04/2019 ,

Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium - MLDAS 2019 Building on the success of the three previous events , Boeing and QCRI will hold the fifth Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium (...

Read More

Past Events

Torralba.png

"Learning to See" Public talk by Professor Antonio Torralba (MIT-CSAIL)

Download ICS File 25/03/2019 ,

Visit by Antonio Torralba, who teaches machines to automate tasks that a human visual system can accomplish, is part of annual spring research update between QCRI and MIT-CSAIL.

Read More

QCRI CSAIL Logos.JPG

QCRI - MIT CSAIL 2019 Annual Project Review

Download ICS File 25/03/2019 ,

Executive Overview Sessions Open to publi Date: March 25, 2019 Time: 10:15AM - 5:15PM Venue: Hamad Bin Khalia Reseach Complex Multipurpose Room To view agenda, please click here . To RSVP to this ...

Read More

News

QCRI-iMMAP MOU.jpg

QCRI and iMMAP announce Memorandum of Understanding

03/03/2019

Pact aims to apply data analysis and artificial intelligence techniques to solve humanitarian problems.

Read More

UNDP workshop.JPG

UNDP partners with QCRI to use AI for social good

11/02/2019

Qatar forum on leveraging AI to solve humanitarian problems fills to capacity.

Read More

C. Mohan pic.jpg

Renowned computing expert C. Mohan to bust blockchain myths in Qatar talk

22/01/2019

Well-known inventor of database recovery algorithms to deliver keynote at QCRI's first blockchain workshop.

Read More