Citizen Technologist

The CTSP Blog

Data for Good Competition — Call for Proposals

The Center for Technology, Society & Policy (CTSP) seeks proposals for a Data for Good Competition. The competition will be hosted and promoted by CTSP in coordination with the UC Berkeley School of Information IMSA, and made possible through funds provided by Facebook.

Team proposals will apply data science skills to address a social good problem with public open data. The objective of the Data for Good Competition is to incentivize students from across the UC Berkeley campus to apply their data science skills towards a compelling public policy or social justice issue.

The competition is intended to encourage the creation of data tools or analyses of open data. Open datasets may be local, state, national, or international so long as they are publicly accessible. The data tool or analysis may include, but is not limited to:

  1. integration or combination of two or more disparate datasets, including integration with private datasets;
  2. data conversions into more accessible formats;
  3. visualization of data graphically, temporally, and/or spatially;
  4. data validations or verifications with other open data sources;
  5. platforms that help citizens access and/or manipulate data without coding experience; etc.

Issues that may be relevant and addressed via this competition include environmental issues, civic engagement (e.g., voting), government accountability, land use (e.g., housing challenges, agriculture), criminal justice, access to health care, etc. CTSP suggests that teams should consider using local or California state data since there may be additional opportunities for access and collaboration with agencies who produce and maintain these datasets.

The competition will consist of three phases:

  • an initial proposal phase when teams work on developing proposals
  • seed grant execution phase when selected teams execute on their proposals
  • final competition and presentation of completed projects at an event in early April 2018

Teams selected for the seed grant must be able to complete a working prototype or final product ready for demonstration at the final competition and presentation event. It is acceptable for submitted proposals to already have some groundwork already completed or serve as a substantial extension of an existing project, but we are looking to fund something novel and not already completed work.

Initial Proposal Phase

The initial proposal phase ends at 11:59pm (PST) on January 28th, 2018 when proposals are due. Proposals will then be considered against the guidelines below. CTSP will soon announce events to support teams in writing proposals and to share conversations on data for good and uses of public open data.

Note: This Data for Good Competition is distinct from the CTSP yearlong fellowship RFP.

Proposal Guidelines

Each team proposal (approximately 2-3 pages) is expected to answer the following questions:

Project Title and Team Composition

  • What is the title of your project, and the names, department affiliations, student classification (undergraduate/graduate), and email contact information?

Problem

  • What is the social good problem?
  • How do you know it is a real problem?
  • If you are successful how will your data science approach address this problem?  Who will use the data and how will they use it to address the problem?  

Data

  • What public open data will you be using?

Output & Projected Timeframe

  • What will your output be? How may this be used by the public, stakeholders, or otherwise used to address your social good problem?
  • Outline a timeframe of how the project will be executed in order to become a finished product or working prototype by the April competition. Will any additional resources be needed in order to achieve the outlined goal?

Privacy Risks and Social Harms

  • What, if any, are the potential negative consequences of your project and how do you propose to minimize them? For example, does your project create new privacy risks?  Are there other social harms?  Is the risk higher for any particular group?  Alternatively, does your project aim to address known privacy risks, social harms, and/or aid open data practitioners in assessing risks associated with releasing data publicly?

Proposals will be submitted through the CTSP website. Successful projects will demonstrate knowledge of the proposed subject area by explaining expertise and qualifications of team members and/or citing sources that validate claims presented. This should be a well-developed proposal, and the team should be prepared to execute the project in a short timeframe before the competition. Please include all relevant information needed for CTSP evaluation–a bare bones proposal is unlikely to advance to the seed funding stage.

Seed Grant Phase

Four to six teams will advance to the seed grant phase. This will be announced in February 2018. Each member of an accepted project proposal team becomes a CTSP Data for Good grantee, and each team will receive $800 to support development of their project. If you pass to the seed grant phase we will be working with you to connect you with stakeholder groups and other resources to help improve the final product. CTSP will not directly provide teams with hardware, software, or data.

Final Competition and Presentation Phase

This phase consists of an April evening of public presentation before judges from academia, Facebook, and the public sector and a decision on the competition winner. The top team will receive $5000 and the runner-up will receive $2000. 

Note: The presentation of projects will support the remote participation of distance-learning Berkeley students, including Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) students in the School of Information.

Final Judging Criteria

In addition to examining continued consideration of the project proposal guidelines, final projects will be judged by the following criteria and those judgments are final:

  • Quality of the application of data science skills
  • Demonstration of how the proposal or project addresses a social good problem
  • Advancing the use of public open data

After the Competition

Materials from the final event (e.g., video) and successful projects will be hosted on a public website for use by policymakers, citizens, and students. Teams will be encouraged to publish a blogpost on CTSP’s Citizen Technologist Blog sharing their motivation, process, and lessons learned.

General Rules

  • Open to current UC Berkeley students (undergraduate and graduate) from all departments (Teams with outside members will not be considered. However, teams that have a partnership with an external organization who might use the tool or analysis will be considered.)
  • Teams must have a minimum of two participants
  • Participants must use data sets that are considered public or open.

Code of Conduct

This code of conduct has been adapted from the 2017 Towards Inclusive Tech conference held at the UC Berkeley School of Information:

The organizers of this competition are committed to principles of openness and inclusion. We value the participation of every participant and expect that we will show respect and courtesy to one another during each phase and event in the competition. We aim to provide a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. Attendees who disregard these expectations may be asked to leave the competition. Thank you for helping make this a respectful and collaborative event for all.

Questions

Please direct all questions about the application or competition process to CTSP@berkeley.edu.

Apply

Please submit your application at this link.

Join CTSP for social impact Un-Pitch Day on October 27th

Are you a local nonprofit or community organization that has a pressing challenge that you think technology might be able to address, but you don’t know where to start?

If so, join us and the UC Berkeley School of Information’s IMSA (Information Management Student Association) for Un-Pitch Day on October 27th from 4 – 7pm, where graduate students will offer their technical expertise to help address your organization’s pressing technology challenges. During the event, we’ll have you introduce your challenge(s) and desired impact and partner you with grad students with activities to explore your challenge(s) and develop refined questions to push the conversation forward.

You’d then have the opportunity to pitch your challenge(s) with the goal of potentially matching with a student project group to adopt your project. By attending Un-Pitch day, you would gain a more defined sense of how to address your technology challenge, and, potentially, a team of students interested in working with your org to develop a prototype or a research project to address it.

Our goal is to both help School of Information grad students (and other UCB grad students) identify potential projects they can adopt for the 2017-2018 academic year (ending in May). Working in collaboration with your organization, our students can help develop a technology-focused project or conduct technology-related research to aid your organization.

There is also the possibility of qualifying for funding ($2000 per project team member) for technology projects with distinct public interest/public policy goals through the Center for Technology, Society & Policy (funding requires submitting an application to the Center, due in late November). Please note that we cannot guarantee that each project presented at Un-Pitch Day will match with an interested team.

Event Agenda

Friday, October 27th from 4 – 7pm at South Hall on the UC Berkeley campus

Light food & drinks will be provided for registered attendees.

Registration is required for this event; click here to register.

4:00 – 4:45pm Social impact organization introductions and un-pitches of challenges

4:45 – 5:00pm CTSP will present details about public interest project funding opportunities and deadlines.

5:00 – 6:00pm Team up with grad students through “speed dating” activities to break the ice and explore challenge definitions and develop fruitful questions from a range of diverse perspectives.

6:00 – 7:00pm Open house for students and organizations to mingle and connect over potential projects. Appetizers and refreshments provided by CTSP.

Preparing for Blockchain

by Ritt Keerati, CTSP Fellow | Permalink

Policy Considerations and Challenges for Financial Regulators (Part I)

Blockchain―a distributed ledger technology that maintains a continuously-growing list of records―is an emerging technology that has captured the imagination and investment of Silicon Valley and Wall Street. The technology has propelled the invention of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and now holds promise to revolutionize a variety of industries including, most notably, the financial sector. Accompanying its disruptive potential, blockchain also carries significant implications and raises questions for policymakers. How will blockchain change the ways financial transactions are conducted? What risks will that pose to consumers and the financial system? How should the new technology be regulated? What roles should the government play in promoting and managing the technology?

READ MORE

Bodily Integrity in the Age of Dislocated Human Eggs

by Allyn Benintendi, CTSP Fellow | Permalink

In late October of 2012, soon after the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted the experimental label from human egg freezing, the good news spread like wildfire (Frappier 2012). Egg freezing is a medical procedure that harvests and removes a female’s mature oocytes (eggs) from her body for rapid freezing and storage for later use. Even though the ASRM report deliberately warned against healthy women freezing their eggs for the sole purpose of delaying childbearing, some saw with egg freezing a world-changing opportunity. This opportunity rested in the idea that the institutional failures that females faced as both laborers and eventual mothers could be relieved by a medical procedure. Bloomberg Businessweek aptly identified the solution and the problem in a 2014 headline, “Freeze Your Eggs, Free Your Career.” For tech giants Facebook and Apple, egg freezing is now a part of professional benefits packages.

READ MORE

Bug Bounty Programs as a Corporate Governance “Best Practice” Mechanism

by Amit Elazari Bar On, CTSP Fellow | Permalink

Originally posted on Berkeley Technology Law Journal Blog, on March 22, 2017

In an economy where data is an emerging global currency, software vulnerabilities and security breaches are naturally a major area of concern. As society produces more lines of code, and everything – from cars to sex toys is becoming connected: vulnerabilities are produced daily.[1]   Data breaches’ costs are estimated at an average of $4 million for an individual breach, and $3 trillion in total cost. While some reports suggest lower figures, there is no debate that such vulnerabilities could result in astronomically losses if left unattended. And as we recently learned from the Cloudflare breach, data breaches are becoming more prominent and less predictable,[2] and even security companies get hacked.

READ MORE

Un-Pitch Day success & project opportunities

Our Social Impact Un-Pitch Day event back in October was a great success — held in conjunction with the Information Management Student Association at the School of Information, organizational attendees received help scoping potential technology projects, while scores of Berkeley students offered advice with project design and also learned more about opportunities both to help the attending organizations and CTSP funding.

A key outcome of the event was a list of potential projects developed by 10 organizations, from social service non-profits such as Berkeley Food Pantry and Kiva.org, to technology advocacy groups such as the ACLU of Northern California and the Center for Democracy and Technology (just to name a few!).

We are providing a list of the projects (with contact information) with the goal both of generating interest in these groups’ work as well as providing potential project ideas and matches for CTSP applicants. Please note that we cannot guarantee funding for these projects should you choose to “adopt” a project and work with one of these organizations. Even if a project match doesn’t result in a CTSP fellowship, we hope we can match technologists with these organizations to help promote tech policy for the public interest regardless.

Please check out the list and consider contacting one of these organizations ASAP if their project fits your interests or skill sets! As a reminder, the deadline to apply to CTSP for this funding cycle is November 28, 2016.

Join CTSP for social impact Un-Pitch Day on October 21st

This post is for the 2016 Un-Pitch Day, click here for the 2017 event.

Are you a local non-profit or community organization that has a pressing challenge that you think technology might be able to solve, but you don’t know where to start? Or, are you a Berkeley graduate or undergraduate student seeking an opportunity to put your technical skills to use for the public good?

If so, join us for Un-Pitch Day on October 21st from 3 – 7pm, where Berkeley graduate students will offer their technical expertise to help solve your organization’s pressing technology challenges. During the event, non-profits and community organizations will workshop their challenge(s) and desired impact. Organizations will then be partnered with graduate student technology mentors to define and scope potential solutions.

All attending non-profits and community organizations will have the opportunity to pitch their pressing challenge(s) to student attendees with the goal of potentially matching with a student project group to adopt their project. By attending Un-Pitch day, organizations will gain a more defined sense of how to solve their technology challenges, and potentially, a team of students interested in working with your organization to develop a prototype or project to solve it.

The goal of this event is to both help School of Information master’s students (and other UCB grad students) identify potential projects they can adopt for the 2016-2017 academic year (ending in May). Working in collaboration with your organization, our students can help develop a technology-focused project or conduct research to aid your organization.

There is also the possibility of qualifying for funding ($2000 per project team member) for technology projects with distinct public interest/public policy goals through the Center for Technology, Society & Policy (funding requires submitting an application to the Center, due in late November). Please note that we cannot guarantee that each project presented at Un-Pitch Day will match with an interested team.

Event Agenda

Friday, October 21st from 3 – 7pm at South Hall on the UC Berkeley campus

Light food & drinks will be provided for registered attendees.

Registration is required for this event; click here to register.

3:00 – 4:00pm: Non-profit/Community Organization Attendees

Workshop with Caravan Studios, a division of TechSoup, to frame your problem definition and impact goals.

4:00 – 5:00pm: Non-profit/Community Organization Attendees & I-School students

Team up with student technology mentors to define and scope potential solutions and create a simple visual artifact outlining the idea.

5:00 – 5:30pm: Open to the public

CTSP will present details about public interest project funding opportunities and deadlines.

5:30 – 6:00pm: Open to the public

Attendee organizations present short project pitches (2-3 mins) to the room.

6:00 – 7:00pm: Open to the public

Open house for students and organizations to mingle and connect over potential projects. Appetizers and refreshments provided by CTSP.

Data Science and Expanding Our Sources of Ethical Inspiration

By Luke Stark & Anna Lauren Hoffmann, CTSP Fellows | Permalink

Steam rising from nuclear reactors

Photo by Mark Goebel

Recent public controversies regarding the collection, analysis, and publication of data sets about sensitive topics—from identity and sexuality to suicide and emotion—have helped push conversations around data ethics to the fore. In popular articles and emerging scholarly work (some of it supported by our backers at CTSP), scholars, practitioners and policymakers have begun to flesh out the longstanding conceptual and practical tensions expressed not only in the notion of “data ethics,” but in related categories such as “data science,” “big data,” and even plain old “data” itself.

Against this uncertain and controversial backdrop, what kind of ethical commitments might bind those who work with data—for example, researchers, analysts, and (of course) data scientists? One impulse might be to claim that the unprecedented size, scope, and attendant possibilities of so-called “big data” sets require a wholly new kind of ethics, one built with digital data’s particular affordances in mind from the start. Another impulse might be to suggest that even though “Big Data” seems new or even revolutionary, its ethical problems are not—after all, we’ve been dealing with issues like digital privacy for quite some time.

READ MORE

SSRN and open access for non-institutional scholars

By Tiffany Li, Fellow, Internet Law & Policy Foundry | Permalink

Academics and open access advocates expressed concern when Elsevier acquired SSRN, the previously free and open social sciences research network. It appears now that those fears may have come true, as recent copyright takedowns by SSRN indicate a shift away from open access. The loss of a well-established open access research network will be deeply felt in the social sciences research community, including in my own field of law and public policy.

READ MORE