After a successful first run on one campus, New Light Technologies (NLT) and General Assembly (GA) are expanding their partnership to ten of GA’s campuses. This partnership involves the next generation of data scientists tackling problems in the field of disaster response and management. GA is a school that focuses on developing its students’ technical and coding skills. The school is leveraging NLT’s deep experience providing geospatial analytics to the government, commercial, international organizations and academic institutions, but most notably its work with both the Federal Emergency Management Administration(FEMA) and the World Bank, by challenging students to develop innovative new technologies to enhance the first response to natural disasters.
GA’s current cohort of students are immersed in a 12-week intensive course in data science. As one of their six projects, the students are working through a list of the real-world disaster response situations pitched by NLT’s seasoned geospatial staff. Some of the proposed projects include using live police radio reports and social media to identify people needing assistance in real time and using online platforms like Yelp, Indeed and Glassdoor to estimate the expected economic loss due to a disaster.
At the conclusion of the project, students will present their results and demonstrate their projects to a room of their instructors and industry leaders. The fruits of that labor will hopefully provide more efficient models of analytical technology to the people on the frontlines of disaster response. Showcasing their work gives the students exposure to the leaders of the disaster response community today and a practical, meaningful problem to tackle. But most importantly, it will give those leaders a chance to reimagine the the ways their work could be more accurate and more efficient.
And when first responders have better and more accurate tools, more lives are saved at the exact moment they are most in jeopardy.