Imagine a world where social problems can be solved and solved with the help of tools created on the basis of data science. This is what Data Science for Good, an initiative of the Faculty of Computer Science and Data Science at Boston University, is trying to realize.
The DS4G is a new national initiative for BU that seeks to shift the role of data science and technology into the public interest, said Stacy Dogan, professor of law and founding member of the CDS. This initiative has been running since 2020, but is finally starting as the CDS accepts the first official class of BU undergraduate students.
“The goal is to create a community of researchers, faculty, and academics and students around campus who are interested in using these technologies in the public interest or for public interest purposes,” Dogan said.
To achieve this goal, DS4G will use the experience of 17 different BU schools and colleges, according to the DS4G website.
There will also be programs and courses on the idea of civic-oriented technologies.
Some of these programs have already started at BU Spark! – Laboratory for Informatics and Engineering Projects under the auspices of the CDS.
Ziba Cranmer, director of BU Spark! and a CDS lecturer, said “Experts In Residence” is one of those programs.
“We have a few individuals who in a sense act as supervisors or advisors / mentors for students working on empirical learning projects through Spark!” Said Cranmer.
The projects these teachers have been working on include reforming the criminal justice system and applying data science to affordable housing, she said.
Other programs and courses on civic-oriented technologies continue to work as the new initiative develops. They offer courses between colleges such as joint justice labs.
“Joint Justice Media labs are a good example if you have student journalists working with computer science and data science students around computational investigative journalism,” Cranmer said.
The department has also already used civic-oriented technologies for greater good, including working with the NAACP and WGBH, to find a tool to “better understand the fairness of their coverage of the black community in Boston,” Cranmer said.
“We are creating a model to help them in this analysis,” she said. “The editors of the editorial offices could, on a more active and historical basis, really appreciate the work of their editorial office and the way they cover the black community, for example, in Boston.”
The goal of CDS and DS4G is to create data science technology to find solutions to more serious problems in our society, said Neha Gondal, an associate professor of sociology and lecturer at CDS.
“Part of this initiative is led by data science, which is in the public interest, researching and conducting such science that has wider social impact,” Gondal said. “To solve large-scale, big public problems. For example, issues such as racism and discrimination or the use of technology to solve problems of algorithmic bias, ”Gondal said.
Data science will be represented in most disciplines, majors and aspects of our society, what was the motivation for creating CDS and why students should try CDS programs, Cranmer said.
“It really should be a bridge between other departments and other schools and colleges to help build that capacity and joint degree programs … so students can gain that competency regardless of whether they decide to pursue a major in computer science or no, ”she said.
Dogan said students can use the skills they will gain through DS4G, for issues such as climate change and racial inequality.
“I hope our extraordinary students will be inspired to use their talents, their skills and knowledge to come out and change the world for the better,” Dogan said.