Rachael Dottle, a 2016 eScience Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) fellow, recently presented a paper titled “A tool for estimating and visualizing poverty maps” at NetMob17 in Milan, Italy. This paper is a direct outgrowth of the team’s DSSG project. We reached out to Dottle to find out how her trip went; here are her thoughts in her own words.
Last summer, I worked alongside three other fellows – Carlos Espino, Myeong Lee, and Imam Subkhan, and our project leads Afra Mashadi and [eScience data scientist] Ariel Rokem – to develop a model and visualization tool to estimate poverty in Milan and Mexico City using mobile call data and user-generated OpenStreetMap layers. After completing 10 weeks of work at the eScience Institute on our “Sensing the Census” project, we co-wrote a paper on our methods and results.
A few months later, in early April, I had the privilege to represent the eScience Institute and the Data Science for Social Good Fellowship while presenting my team’s work at the NetMob17 conference in Milan, Italy. The NetMob17 conference is a major mobile phone network conference, hosted by Vodafone and featuring presenters across disciplines, both in the private and public sectors. It was a truly exciting experience for me as my first opportunity to present a paper at a conference, and represents just one of the many ways in which my time as a DSSG fellow has provided me with opportunities and new and invaluable experiences.
Since working on my project as a DSSG fellow, I have continued to conduct research on network analysis, both using spatial and mobile phone data. The eScience Institute provided me with the opportunity to work on an interesting, engaging, and socially-minded project which has influenced my research and academic interests. I learned so much over my 10 weeks at the eScience Institute, and what is truly invaluable about that experience is the way in which it has influenced and continued to benefit me academically, professionally, and personally. I found an interest in network analysis, which I have continued to pursue as a topic in my independent research as a master’s student at Columbia.
Traveling to Milan to present our work, and to see and hear from others working in the field of network analysis also allowed me to make great connections with others across the world working in the field. I was able to hear about the various ways researchers are applying different methods to the topic of utilizing mobile phone data for social good, and it has only further increased my interest in the topic. I could not have had these experiences without the eScience Institute, and I feel as though the fellowship has opened so many doors for me, and benefited me in more ways than I can even enumerate.
Having the opportunity to present at NetMob17 in this stage of my professional and academic career has been incredibly beneficial, and I credit my experiences as a Data Science for Social Good fellow for many of my accomplishments this year following my time at the eScience Institute. I had the opportunity to hear from many of the conference attendees at NetMob17, and I believe my team was able to complete sophisticated, well-considered work during our 10 weeks at the eScience Institute, and I credit the support and resources provided to us during the fellowship with allowing us to produce work we can be proud of and that we can share with other researchers, globally.
[This piece was lightly edited for clarity; hyperlinks were also added.]