The Centre’s Data Fellows Programme began in 2018 and supports all four workstreams. This high-profile initiative is designed to expose the Centre team and partners to new areas of data-related expertise that can impact humanitarian response and advance the goals of the Centre. The structure of the programme provides Fellows with exposure to different parts of the humanitarian system while allowing them to focus time and energy on an individual project that addresses a challenge related to the use and impact of data in the sector. The Centre will host its fourth class of Data Fellows in June and July 2021. The Fellows will focus on three areas: Data Journalism, Predictive Analytics, and Strategic Communications. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 programme will be conducted remotely, with Fellows working from home under the direction of the Coordinator for the Data Fellows Programme.

 

2021 Data Fellows

Julia Janicki, Data Journalism Fellow
Julia is a freelance data journalist, data visualization designer/developer and cartographer with a focus on environmental issues, biodiversity conservation, democracy and human rights. She has worked for clients such as Global Fishing Watch, Climate Policy Initiative, Reuters Graphics, Environmental Investigation Agency, as well as UN agencies such as UNESCO and UN Volunteers. Previously, Julia worked at a biodiversity/biocomplexity lab at the Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology as a computing technician, where she was on a team that developed antmaps.org. Julia holds dual citizenship from the U.S. and Taiwan, and currently lives in Paris, France. She received two M.S. degrees from UW-Madison in Environmental Observation and Informatics as well as Entomology.

 

Kasia Chmielinski, Strategic Communications Fellow
Kasia is the Co-Founder and Project Lead of The Data Nutrition Project, an initiative that builds dataset quality standards and tools to mitigate bias in artificial intelligence. They are also a technologist at McKinsey & Company, and an Affiliate at The Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University. Previously, Kasia was a digital expert at The U.S. Digital Service (Executive Office of the President) and product lead of Scratch, a project of the MIT Media Lab. Kasia is a U.S. national and received their bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University.

 

Murray Garrard, Strategic Communications Fellow
Murray is a journalist and communications strategist who has been working in the humanitarian sector since 2012. He worked as a journalist in the UK, Australia, Asia and the Middle East before moving to Geneva to help develop and launch the Core Humanitarian Standard. Murray has also headed communications teams at the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership, CHS Alliance, CDAC Network and the UK Mission to the UN. Murray is a U.K. national, a US permanent resident, an occasional writer of fiction, and lives in Southern California. He holds graduate degrees in journalism, creative writing, development management and Buddhist studies.

 

Roberta Rocca, Predictive Analytics Fellow
Roberta is a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and Interacting Minds Centre in Aarhus, Denmark, where she conducts research in cognitive and social science using computational methods. Roberta contributes to developing open-source tools for data-driven research, and she is interested in contributing to optimizing data sharing practices and developing predictive models for social good. Roberta is an Italian national currently living between Aarhus and Austin, Texas. She received her PhD in Cognitive Science from Aarhus University, and has studied and worked in Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

 

Approach

Each Fellow is responsible for designing a project based on a problem area identified by the Centre. Fellows will conduct desk and user research before developing a project related to their focus area. The Fellows will be expected to communicate publicly about their work and to share key insights and recommendations for taking the work forward. The Fellows will need to maintain active and clear communications with relevant members of the Centre team and other collaborators throughout the programme. The Fellows will also participate in joint learning activities throughout the Programme, including a seminar series on ‘Understanding the Humanitarian World’ and an interactive bootcamp on ‘Designing for Impact’ to support them in delivering their projects.

 

Focus Areas

Data Journalism: As the volume and use of data increases within the humanitarian sector, the focus has shifted to how data-driven insights translate into action at a global, regional, and local level. One creative approach to addressing this challenge is through data journalism: bringing narrative and data together to tell a more complex and compelling story. Through the work of previous Fellows, the Centre has produced engaging stories that put affected people at the center of the experience, such as with the data stories on displacement in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Yemen. The Data Journalism Fellow will build on this experience and produce a new data story that brings to life the experience of one family living in a country with a humanitarian crisis.

 

Predictive Analytics: Although predictive analytics is not a new field, its application in humanitarian response has only just begun. The increasing availability of data from a variety of sources, together with advancements in statistics and machine learning, is generating a growing interest in using models to gain insight and trigger anticipatory action in humanitarian response. When it comes to modeling for humanitarian operations, the goal is to analyze current and historical data to predict an event or some characteristic of an event (the probability, severity, magnitude, or duration). By creating an early signal of need that is tied to pre-agreed financing and actions, the response has the potential to be faster, cheaper and better, with more lives saved and protected. The Predictive Analytics Fellow will explore additional areas of potential relevance for predictive analytics in humanitarian action.

 

Strategic Communications (Data Responsibility): Communicating about the use and impact of data in the humanitarian sector is essential to driving continued investment and collective action. To do this effectively requires new approaches to explaining complex issue areas that touch on data, technology, design and humanitarian action. Data responsibility in humanitarian response is one such area. In recent years we have seen the development of principles, policies, and strategies for the responsible management of data in humanitarian action but gaps remain between global frameworks and their practical application in field operations. Making guidance accessible to field staff is essential to integrating data responsibility into their daily work. The Strategic Communication Fellow will deliver a project to meet this need. 

 

Questions

If you have questions about the Data Fellows Programme, send an email to centrehumdata@un.org

Watch this video for more information on the Programme. Learn more about the previous classes of Fellows here.