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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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

2017

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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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Past Events

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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Women in Data Science

Download ICS File 03/02/2017 ,

Here's a great chance to learn about the latest data science-related research in multiple domains, as part of a global project. Qatar's WiDS event will be held here at the HBKU Research Complex on ...

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News

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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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Leading AI expert Patrick Winston to visit Qatar

05/03/2017

Patrick Winston, a Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, is to visit Qatar to ...

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Boeing Partners with QCRI for fourth annual Machine Learning and Data Analytics Symposium (MLDAS)

09/02/2017

The Boeing Company has announced that it will once again partner with the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), part of Hamad bin Khalifa University, to host the fourth annual Machine Learning ...

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