The CorrelAidX Berlin Online Data Dialogue

The Local Chapter Berlin hosted its first ever Online Data Dialogue event on June 11th, 2020, connecting two amazing NPOs - GoVolunteer and Amadeu Antonio Stiftung - with data scientist volunteers. In this post, we delve into what the teams discussed and what ideas they came up with to solve the challenges of the NPOs.

2020-08-31 | Liam, Melinda, Vadim, Sylvi, Alex (CorrelAid Berlin)

The CorrelAidX Berlin Online Data Dialogue

How can data be used to support the varied goals of non-profit organisations and how can CorrelAid play a role in this process? Answering these questions was the aim of the CorrelAidX Berlin Data Dialogue event hosted on June 11th, 2020. Usually these events are held in person, but with the need to work remotely in 2020 this event was our first using online tools such as Zoom, Jamboard and Google Slides. Although this provided some unique challenges for our organising committee and participants it also allowed us to include attendees from all across Germany (and beyond).

What is a ‘Data Dialogue’?

Before being able to use data to support their goals many NPOs will need to clarify the specific data challenges they face. Which challenges can be easily addressed and which will require more work? What data science projects could be used to address these challenges?

These questions are difficult to answer for NPO representatives without professional expertise in data science. The ‘Data Dialogue’ format helps to overcome these hurdles by providing a space for an open dialogue between NPO representatives and CorrelAid’s volunteer data science community. For our first remote event we were joined by two Berlin based NPOs, GoVolunteer and Antonio Amadeu Stiftung, that each provided us with a unique data challenge.

Social distancing made it necessary for us to use new online tools for brainstorming

GoVolunteer

GoVolunteer is an organisation that seeks to match potential volunteers with projects that fit their skills and interests. Although they interact with many volunteers and volunteer organisations, GoVolunteer representative Berit explained that they face a data challenge tracking which volunteers were matched with which organisations and whether these matches led to successful and rewarding volunteer work. Collecting this type of information would allow GoVolunteer to better quantify the success of their platform and identify the type of volunteer projects that are most popular in their community. Brainstorming discussions during the Data Dialogue revolved around how new data on users might be collected and how both new and existing data could be better managed to achieve organisational goals.

Berit, GoVolunteer

It’s always good when you get questions because that forces you to think about it, (...) to clarify what the actual problem is and what you would actually want to have in a solution.

Amadeu Antonio Stiftung

The second NPO of the night faced a very different data challenge to that of GoVolunteer. Amadeu Antonio Stiftung is an organsiation aimed at promoting human rights and opposing right-wing extremism, racism and anti-Semitism. Part of this work involves the collection of many thousands of images from extremist websites and social media groups but, as Amadeu Antonio Stiftung representative Miro explained, it is challenging to properly classify and store these images for future use. Our data science volunteers discussed methods of image analysis that could be used to tag and classify images, including reading image text. They also discussed possible interfaces that would allow members of Amadeu Antonio Stiftung to more easily work with the image data.

Miro, Amadeu Antonio Stiftung

Technical expertise is usually something that we are lacking and it was really nice to see that people will take time off their day in the evening to participate.

Conclusion

With 2 NPOs and 18 CorrelAid volunteers taking part, our first remote Data Dialogue event ended up being a great success and we are excited to see which projects will emerge from this event! A huge thanks to all the participants who made this first online data dialogue such an exciting and lively event. There are already plans for more remote Data Dialogue events to be held in other CorrelAid local chapters as well as a second CorrelAidX Berlin event coming up in September. See here for more details.

If you are part of an NPO and have a data challenge on which you would like input from our data science community please send us a message. If you are interested in getting involved with CorrelAid as a data science volunteer sign up for our mailing list to be notified of future events. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Liam, Melinda, Vadim, Sylvi, Alex (CorrelAid Berlin)

Liam, Melinda, Vadim, Sylvi, Alex (CorrelAid Berlin)

Liam, Melinda, Vadim, Sylvi and Alex are CorrelAid volunteers and active members of the Local Chapter Berlin. They organized the Online Data Dialogue together.