Feedback from the community at our 1st meetup event

In this follow up of our previous posting we would like to share with you the results of the second part of our meetup. We had a brainstorm with the community about what DataMission should do, and how we can help specific MDOs.

Many people suggested that we should organise meetups more often, or at least once per month! Thank you very much for the enthusiasm, and we will certainly consider this. And let us know if you’d like to present!

In terms of how to organize the interaction between data scientists and MDO’s we heard that we should consider the following:

  • Maintaining the meetup events because they help to keep up the enthusiasm and build the community;
  • Publishing particular problems that MDOs are facing, and allowing people to register as a part of the team (task force!) for solving the problem, as in ‘…3 spots left on the team for this DataMission task’. Also make it clear what skills are needed for a (sub-)task;
  • Organizing meetups where we would present several problems so that people can self-organize and brainstorm on the spot;
  • Preparing the proposals: filter, time box and focus (make them very concrete);
  • Organizing a pilot project soon;
  • Setting up an inventory of data sources (data sets, APIs) useful for solving MDO’s problems;
  • Creating a knowledge center of tools, with some participants voicing an idea about writing it in Dutch given abundance of similar resource pages that are in English;
  • Creating a knowledge base of people and their skills;
  • Pre-forming potential teams based on skills, and possibly their location within the Netherlands;
  • Creating infrastructure (Github, Atlassian,etc.) to use for the data dives and other efforts;
  • Figuring out how to avoid becoming “cheap labour” to MDO’s (ask why they can’t/won’t pay for a solution);
  • Thinking about the privacy issues (NDA’s, social contracts signed by participants);
  • Thinking about the continuity of the solutions: what happens with the solution after the data dive/project?
  • Quickly creating the foundation (“stichting”).

More general ideas about possible problems we should get involved in were:

  • “Construct metrics about MDO’s impact, analyze, and visualize”: Design metrics to measure impact of MDOs (for example, use social networks analysis to try to quantify whether a conflict zone is more or less conflictive); then analyse the data to check the development and impact of actions; followed by the visualizations with which MDOs can communicate their message to both their supporters and the general public;
  • Use devices similar to what’s built at Sensemakers Amsterdam meetup ( to measure pollution in developing countries, while trying to get around the fact that cheap sensors are usually not very sensitive (see also;
  • Can DataMission be involved in 3d printing for development?
  • Support organisations in showcasing their results in an effective way with powerful visualizations (“Good visualization is worth a 1000 words”);
  • Check if one can work together with the Effective Altruism meetup group (;

There were also more concrete ideas related to the challenges put forward by our special guest, Jaap Rodenburg of the Natuur & milieu federatie Utrecht.

  • Use drones to monitor wildlife crime;
  • Write a tool which monitors websites where permits for factories/new roads are published. They can then know when new plans are published (so they can check their impact). Could be something for Appsterdam.
  • Set up GIS based spatial alarm system to find out which of their followers live near an impacted place (e.g. where new factory is built). One could even try to decipher from the Twitter network of their followers where those followers live (which can be an input to this system).


Thank you all for the very valuable input on how to organize the interaction between data scientists and MDOs, and what problems to consider! We are very busy processing your suggestions. In the meantime please contact us (through our website or twitter) if you have any comment or suggestion (or a comment about a suggestion made!) And we are looking forward to seeing you next time!

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