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.

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In the Media

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Cyber security experts advise caution after attacks

16/05/2017

Cyber security experts in Qatar and the region have advised caution and not to access any emails or other information from unknown sources, following the recent wave of cyber attacks across the world...

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People remain calm as the world ends, video game study suggests

28/03/2017

As the world ends, will you lock arms and sing “Kumbayah” or embark on a path of law-breaking, anti-social behavior? A new study, based upon the virtual actions of more than 80,000 players of the ...

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Computer vision research aims to identify overweight people from social media face photos

16/03/2017

Researchers from MIT and the Qatar Computing Research Institute have developed a novel new facility in the current rush of interest towards computer vision – an algorithm that can identify overweight...

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Events

Past Events

2017

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QCRI’s Creative Space holds Open House event for kids

Download ICS File 20/05/2017 ,

The Qatar Computing Research Institute’s new Creative Space, which conducts fun activities to teach children computing skills, has successfully held its first Open House event. About 100 children ...

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QCRI-MIT CSAIL Annual Research Project Review 2017

Download ICS File 27/03/2017 ,

The QCRI – MIT CSAIL Annual Research Project Review is open to the public on Monday, March 27, 2017, at the HBKU Research Complex Multipurpose Room. The annual meeting is a highlight of a ...

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MLDAS 2017

(MLDAS 2017) Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium

Download ICS File 13/03/2017  - 14/03/2017 , Qatar National Convention Centre

Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium - MLDAS 2017 Building on the success of the three previous events , Boeing and QCRI will hold the Fourth Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium (...

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News

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QCRI’s summer internship program kicks off

07/05/2017

The Qatar Computing Research Institute’s 2017 summer internship program is underway. This year’s program involves computer science and computer engineering students from Carnegie Mellon University, ...

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QCRI summer 2017 internship applications open

11/03/2017

The Qatar Computing Research Institute, part of Hamad bin Khalifa University, has announced that applications for its summer internship program have opened. The internships are being offered to ...

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MIT-CSAIL's Patrick Winston: 'AI is not a threat'

05/03/2017

Artificial intelligence expert tells Qatar audience that humans should not consider AI to be a major threat to their existence but should use it to enhance it.

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