Citizen Technologist

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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.

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