Emergency Data Science

An International Workshop on Building Humanitarian Decision-Making Tools in the Age of Big Data

December 4 - 5, 2018 8:30AM - 5:00PM, New Student Center, York University, Toronto


About the Event

An invite-only international workshop hosted by the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (DIGHR) and the Lassonde School of Engineering (LSE) at York University that brings together leading humanitarian agencies, data scientists, and developers to collaborate on urgent data-related challenges in humanitarian response.


The Challenge

Humanitarian responders are producing or have access to ever more data in our operational sphere. The question we now face is how can we use this data to improve decision-making in humanitarian response? In this workshop, we will bring together humanitarian organizations, data scientists, and developers to collaborate on a number of specific field-driven challenges that require novel data science-driven solutions.


What We'll Do


Explore operational challenges relating to data collection, management, analysis, visualization, and decision-making in humanitarian operations.


Discuss existing data science applications in the humanitarian domain and lessons learned.


Catalyze new collaborations responding to priority challenges.


Expected Outcomes

During the Workshop, participants will create high-level concepts and business plans to address the specific challenges presented by humanitarian organizations. In the following weeks and months, the DIGHR team will work closely with interested participants in the design, fundraising, and implementation process to make these solutions a reality.


Who is Coming

We will bring together participants from three key groups needed to solve complex humanitarian data science challenges.

Field Experts

ExpertField Workers and Subject Matter Experts from humanitarian organizations (e.g., health, needs assessments, WASH, nutrition). These participants understand the operational needs from the field that require data-driven solutions. They use new technologies and tools to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response.

Innovation Specialists

Specialist Innovation Specialists from humanitarian organizations. These participants understand how to translate field needs and lead the development of solutions to operational challenges. They have a wealth of experience from past projects to share on how to do humanitarian innovation effectively.

Data Scientists and Developers

Data Scientist Software, Information Technology, and Data Science Developers & Researchers from York University and industry. These participants are experienced in building data-driven tools and applications for various types of clients. They seek novel challenges for which to develop solutions that will have positive humanitarian impact.

Event Format

Day 1 Dec 4/2018

On Day 1, humanitarian organizations will present up to five specific challenges to the plenary group. Innovation specialists from humanitarian organizations will present on recent data science-driven applications for humanitarian response in order to share lessons learned for future work. Invited specialists will present on pressing issues relating to the ethics, privacy, security, and governance of big data, as well as the process of developing custom data science applications.

Day 2 Dec 5/2018

On Day 2, we will invite data scientists and developers to team up with humanitarian organizations in working groups to tackle each of the challenges. Groups will collaboratively generate high-level concepts and business plans for solutions with support from a diverse array of experts in the room. Strengths, weaknesses, and next steps for each solution will be discussed in the plenary group.


2nd Floor Convention Space, New Student Centre
15 Library Lane
York University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada