Photo: Pop Tika

Data for Good: A Global Hackathon

Good data collection and analysis can help every UN Agency to make smart decisions and determine where to direct resources. UNICC’s growing Data Analytics programme, in alignment with the UN Secretary General’s Data Strategy, supports the United Nations family to better deliver on its missions and mandates, working more digitally and more effectively to produce measurable results.

In many ways, the pandemic has highlighted the inadequacies of our systems, processes, governance and behaviors. On the other hand, it has also provided an opportunity for data scientists and AI scientists to put their advanced techniques and tools to use by helping leaders make decisions in a challenging environment that’s dominated by speed, uncertainty and lack of data insights. 

Are you an undergraduate or Master’s student of Computer Science, Statistics or Applied Data Science who wants to make a difference? Block your calendar and put your creative hat on to solve global challenges using open-source data in UNICC’s first global hackathon in celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary!

Registration is open until 11:59pm (EST) February 9, 2021 (original closing date has been changed due to high volume of registration).

  • Bachelor and Master students of Computer Science, Statistics, and Applied Data Science.
  • Individuals and teams up to five people.
  • Each team can only participate in one challenge.

Registration is open until 11:59pm (EST) February 9, 2021 (change of original closing date due to high volume of registration).
Only one member must register the whole team.

Day 1 – Tuesday, 16 February
9:00 – 9:30 Hackathon Challenges presentation
10:00 – 13:00 Group Breakout

Day 2 – Wednesday, 17 February
9:00 – 10:30 Group touchbase

Day 3 – Thursday, 18 February
9:00 – 10:30 Group touchbase

Day 4 – Friday, 19 February
9:00 – 12:00 Demo day. Presentations and awards

Participants and judges don’t need to be in a specific location as the event will be fully virtual (Microsoft Teams-based).
All times EST. 

Challenge 1 – Covid-19 – Open Challenge

Covid-19 has been the biggest challenge in the past year. We are now entering a new phase: vaccination. This may change the patterns of the pandemic. Some of the research questions are:

  1. How can we measure the social economic impact of COVID-19?
  2. How can we identify government crisis response to COVID-19, specifically in regions and countries like Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine and Zambia?
  3. How can we measure the impact of COVID-19 public safety responses such as social distancing and curfews?
  4. How do we forecast the impact of phased vaccination cycles globally?

You are not limited to these questions; this is an open challenge.

Challenge 2 – Refugee Crisis – Predict Forced Displacement Challenge

Appropriately and timely planning figures on displaced populations are central to effective policy-related decision-making with respect to response, budgeting, funding appeals, programming and resource allocation of humanitarian organizations. However, producing reliable estimates of forced displacement at the country level is very challenging, mainly due to limited access to detailed information and the uncertainty that is related to displacement flows.

Additionally, when it comes to predicting forcibly displaced migration flows in the long run, statistical modeling has, for the most part, proven inadequate as quantitative approaches need to take into account rare, highly uncertain and unquantifiable factors, such as the occurrence of a political crisis or of a conflict that could trigger mass movements of people.

Nevertheless, if global forced displacement flows are the most challenging to forecast, they are perhaps also where accurate predictions can help create the most added value and to save lives, by allowing governments and NGOs to conduct a better-informed allocation of humanitarian resources.

The purpose of the assignment is to develop a model to forecast future stock figures of forcibly displaced persons by country of origin 5 years from now. The total number of displaced persons of any country should be disaggregated between those displaced internally within the country (IDP), those displaced abroad that obtained refugee status (REF) and those that requested asylum and are still waiting for a decision (ASY).

Challenge 3 – UN75 – Visualization Challenge

Our vision is a world where the people and the planet get the support they need – in the moments that matter the most. The UN ecosystem as a whole focuses on maximizing the value of our data responsibly. The United Nations envisions to deliver the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before the end of the Decade of Actions by 2030:

  • Climate action
  • Gender equality
  • Human rights and the rule of law
  • Peace and security

With this in mind:

  1. Visualize the United Nations accomplishments for the last 75 years.
  2. Explore the impact the United Nations has made in the last 75 years.
  3. Identify and share insights on how the SDG goals have been implemented globally thus far.

Creativity is fully encouraged – any interesting or novel ways to look at and segment of data will be valuable and engaging for all.

  • All Challenge GitHub folders can be found here.
  • Challenge 1 COVID – 19 Open Challenge datasets can be found here
  • Challenge 2 Refugee Crisis – Predict Forced Displacement Challenge datasets can be found here
  • Challenge 3 UN75 Visualization Challenge datasets can be found here
  • Additional datasets can be found here

Preeminent UNICC and United Nations team mentors and judges.

The Global Hackathon winning team will receive the unique opportunity to present to UN Global leaders during a UNICC 50th Anniversary special event.


For more details see our Concept Note, Flyer and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) sheet. Do you still have questions? Contact us at hackathon@unicc.org.