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DSSGx 2021 Projects

What are the DSSGx Projects?

DSSGx Projects are suggested by our partner organisations and are data-driven challenges that will have significant impact on socially important problems. If you represent a non-profit or government organisation with a high social impact Data Science challenge you can suggest future projects by emailing us at

Anomaly detection in public procurement

The DNCP is Paraguay's National Department for Public Contracting. It is responsible for public purchasing at a national level. They oversee, control and monitor all aspects of the public tendering and contracting process of the government public offices (municipalities, governmental departments, universities...) and ensure that they are complying with the current legislation. They organize the tendering process across the country and maintain a registry of state-approved vendors for the purchasing of public goods. They are furthermore tasked to track and inspect for abnormal behaviours indicating corruption or other problems in the process.

The goal of the project is to develop a predictive model for reference prices of goods and services procured by the state. It will mostly be trained on historical data available at the DNCP. The purpose of the model is twofold. Firstly, it can be used to predict reference prices and provide them to public institutions that could use this information for cost estimation purposes. It therefore serves as a pre-emptive measure to avoid cases of over-billing before contracts are signed. Secondly, the model can be used to trigger alerts in case a particular good or service has been awarded at a price that deviates significantly from the predicted reference price. This could serve to raise alerts about possible corruption.

A supplementary goal of the project is to investigate aspects of fair distribution of purchases across areas and communities aided by census data. The key goal here is to identify under-served communities and use this knowledge to potentially guide and influence political decision making and purchasing towards more equitable and fairer outcomes.

Project in partnership with DNCP.DNCP logo

Mapping the world’s offline population

The project is in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for all matters related to information and communication technology.

ITU’s mission is to facilitate connecting all the world's people and to protect and support everyone's right to communicate.​ ITU and UNICEF have joined forces in the Giga initiative in a bid to connect every school to the Internet by 2030. Aside from directly benefitting children, schools often act as community hubs and so connecting a school often connects the surrounding community too.

This project aims to integrate a number of different data sources to provide real-time estimates of the number of offline people in local areas that would benefit from extending Internet connectivity. The new model will inform the prioritisation of infrastructure projects within Giga as well as policy and decision making at the community level more broadly, and enhance the understanding and use of national and local level internet connectivity data.

Project in partnership with ITU.

ITU logo

Improving economic forecasts during times of crises

This project is a collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), which represents the main governmental body in Germany for economic affairs and economic policy. Tasks of the BMWi include developing and implementing economic support programs and forecasting economic indicators that form the basis for tax revenue estimates and budget considerations of various governmental institutions.

In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this project aims at robustifying BMWi's forecasts by developing a bottom-up forecasting model for predicting economic development in Germany based on regional data, e.g. from the Corona data platform.

The project will draw on fine-grained data on the demographic, economic and sectoral structure of regions with the aim of improving economic forecasts during times of shocks. The forecasts will be evaluated against BMWi’s current benchmarks.

Project in partnership with BMWi.

Prioritising environmental complaints

This project is a collaboration with the Superintendency of the Environment (SMA) in Chile. SMA is a public service responsible for conducting environmental inspections and ensuring compliance of thousands of facilities to protect the environment and public health.

Due to its limited budget, SMA cannot afford to respond to all citizen demands so it must prioritize where to allocate its efforts. Thousands of citizen complaints are received yearly on a wide range of environmental problems, and this figure has quadruplicated the past year with the launch of online complaints. Each citizen complaint needs to be analysed, and where relevant, lead to inspection and sanction processes.

The project will use a mix of structured (e.g., facility information) and unstructured (e.g., description of environmental problems) data to attempt to prioritise complaints by identifying those that are more likely to lead to grave sanctions as well as those that are outside of the SMA remit. This will help SMA attend to some of the environmental and public health issues that require pressing attention.

Project in partnership with SMA.SMA logo