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Data For Good Collaboration with Unicef and The Data Lab

Allocating resources and refuge for displaced populations with Unicef.

Unicef & The Data Lab

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation working for children in danger.

The Data Lab is Scotland’s Innovation Centre for data and AI. Their mission is to help Scotland maximise value from data and lead the world to a data powered future.

The Challenge

There are currently an estimated 1.1 million internally displaced people (IDP) in Somalia with an additional 350,000 Somalis living in the Dadaab camp. The Kenyan government is attempting to close the Dadaab camp so UNICEF are tracking IDP movement using real time satellite imagery to improve its ability to predict population movement and help coordinate its support activities more efficiently to areas in greatest need.

Brainnwave are proud to support UNICEF in their efforts by providing access to satellite imagery for UNICEF’s team of data scientists to analyse. We brokered the deal to access satellite data from Airbus using their Pléiades satellite constellation.

There is a great synergy between Brainnwave and UNICEF, as they are looking to expand their network of companies providing data and we have a platform that enables companies to upload and sell their data. On this occasion, the data was donated and the Brainnwave platform enabled this to happen.

Natalia Adler, Data, Research and Policy Planning Specialist at UNICEF was keen to form a collaboration with Brainnwave to assist in their relief efforts. UNICEF identified satellite imagery as being key to better understanding the situation in Dadaab, which in turn led to Ms Adler contacting Brainnwave.

If we can understand how people move we can coordinate relief assistance in a much better, more targeted way so we can assist the population where the need is greatest.

“Approximately 60% of internally displaced people in Somalia are children”, said Ms Adler. When the Kenyan Government threatened to to close the Dadaab camp last year, the biggest in the world, the need arose to get a better understanding of their movements.

UNICEF are embracing data science to focus on other areas of concern, including the Syrian and Jordanian border, where approximately 70,000 refugees are caught in a “no-man’s land”. The use of satellite data makes it easier to understand population movement in an area that is very hard to monitor on the ground.

Ms Adler also said “There is no single answer to these complex problems, so we have to tackle them in a different way. It is collective problem-solving and, here, using data science to decode the complexity”.

Brainnwave is committed to continued support for UNICEF and working with other charities and good causes to help them overcome challenges they may face.

It’s wonderful that Scotland has a focus on bringing commercial companies together through innovation centres such as the Data Lab.

What did we do?

Through one of the their Learning Journeys to New York in December 2016, The Data Lab facilitated collaboration between UNICEF and Brainnwave to use data for social good.

A partnership between UNICEF and Brainnwave was established following participation at a Data Lab event and Scottish Development International funded trade trip to New York City, where UNICEF’s Data, Research and Policy Planning Specialists are based.

Brainnwave have been able to support UNICEF’s activities by providing access to data and imagery.


Natalia Adler - Data, Research and Policy Planning Specialist - UNICEF

Brainnwave has been instrumental in helping UNICEF understand how people move so we can coordinate relief assistance in a much better, more targeted way and can assist the population where the need is greatest.

Natalia Adler - Data, Research and Policy Planning Specialist - UNICEF

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  • Brainnwave has been instrumental in helping UNICEF understand how people move so we can coordinate relief assistance in a much better, more targeted way and can assist the population where the need is greatest.

    Natalia Adler – Data, Research and Policy Planning Specialist – UNICEF

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  • Brainnwave are a great example of how companies can deliver complex data science projects by leveraging their network, partnering with academia and by building the ecosystem of data experts.

    The Data Lab has been a partner with Brainnwave for several years and they have contributed greatly to the data driven innovation agenda for Scotland and have leveraged opportunities to build and grow their data talent and expand their capabilities significantly in both data science and artificial intelligence.

    Gillian Docherty – CEO – The Data Lab

  • We are delighted to be working with our Partner, Brainnwave, on their new product, Geo Spatial Web Services. Brainnwave’s new product provides efficient access to our geospatial data providing users with the ability to analyse the data and generate strategic insights to aid their business.

    Stefan Wells – Head of Partners – Ordnance Survey

  • Brainnwave are a great team to work with. They put a focus on working collaboratively with us and they make sure that they’ve always understood what we need.

    Their solution has already saved a lot of time through the automation of organising, updating and sharing some of our day to day data (such as fuel prices) across the organisation.

    Noreen Howat – Senior Strategy Manager – Aggreko

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    Shawn Pace – Global Sourcing Director – Goodyear

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    We are excited to be working with Brainnwave to apply their data intelligence technology to the housing sector. Their innovative approach to data and analytics, developing deep insights about our customers, has never been done before and will help us provide the best possible customer experience.

    Doug Silverstone – Head of Data & Analytics – MTVH

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    Stéphane le Corre – Strategy & Commercial Development Director – Aggreko

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