DSSGx Munich 2023: Empowering Change Through Data and AI

The Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) program, a dynamic initiative that commenced in 2013 at the University of Chicago and has since expanded to multiple global locations, recently concluded its latest cycle of transformative projects in an endeavor to utilize data science and AI for social good in Munich, Germany. This annual summer fellowship, endorsed by the Data Science for Social Good Foundation and Carnegie Mellon University, having Helmholtz AI as part of the organizers, brought together talented individuals from diverse backgrounds to work collaboratively on projects with a profound social impact.

The primary objective of DSSGx is to equip participants with hands-on experience and training in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science. During the 2-month fellowship, small cross-disciplinary teams engaged in projects bridging critical societal domains. These teams were guided by senior data science mentors and project managers, receiving full-time mentorship to ensure the successful development of high-quality, impactful data science projects.

The recently concluded program in Munich saw the engagement of two teams comprising 4-5 members each. Led by Prof. Frauke Kreuter and Prof. Bernd Bischl at LMU Munich, the fellowship hosted group of participants aiming to develop tools and insights ready for field trials and implementation, extending beyond just machine learning models to encompass dashboards, descriptive analyses, and even data infrastructure.

The two projects undertaken during the fellowship were the “HydroXplorer: A Web Application for Fire Hydrant Range Finder – having a team to create an application enhancing firefighting capabilities of the Federal Office for Disaster Control and the Munich Fire Brigade – and the “Land sealing dataset and analysis for better understanding of climate change,” where the working team had to collaborate with entities such as the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning and GreenDIA to produce a dataset about land parcels from districts across Germany.

Read more about the two projects and their impact here.

The lecture series, part of the DSSGx program, hosted a variety of speakers, optimizing exposure. Sessions were conducted both in-person and online, offering insights into initiatives like 'Byte,' implementing digital transformation projects, 'Data Science for Social Good Berlin,' and 'Democratizing our Data' by Julia Lane, emphasizing the use of data for societal good, and others. Find out more about the lecture series here.

Christina Bukas, an AI Consultant at Helmholtz AI and Project Manager for DSSGx Munich about working on the DSSGx Munich 2023 program:

"It was amazing to see how much our brilliant fellows were able to accomplish in such a short time; we got to see how effective it is to have interdisciplinary teams, while all the time working closely with our project partners. It is truly invigorating to be part of such initiatives, working with great people, and seeing how your work can actually contribute to the social good with directly applicable end products."

A significant highlight of the program was a memorable trip to Berlin, where the fellows had the unique opportunity to visit the Bundeskanzleramt and meet with members of the German Parliament. This visit not only provided exposure to the heart of German politics and innovation but also facilitated discussions on the pivotal role of data science in driving meaningful change within the public sector. The interaction with various parliament members, including Holger Becker, Daniel Föst, and Mario Brandenburg, shed light on Germany's digital priorities and the significance of initiatives like "Data Science for Social Good" in addressing real-world challenges.

The success and impact of the DSSGx Munich 2023 program have set the stage for its continuation next year, once again with a strong emphasis on creating usable tools that benefit society. The fellowship's vision revolves around fostering collaborations and diverse interdisciplinary teams to address pressing societal issues through the power of data science. For further information on the initiative, visit the DSSGx Munich 2023 website.