You are viewing content from a past/completed QCon -

Presentation: Building Data Products for Social Good @Facebook

Track: Papers in Production: Modern CS in the Real World

Location: Cyril Magnin III

Duration: 4:20pm - 5:00pm

Day of week:

Slides: Download Slides


Facebook partners with humanitarian and academic organizations, as well as community-driven projects, like OpenStreetMap, on a number of Data for Good efforts. Examples of the outputs are

  • the High-Resolution Settlement Layer, for which we identify the locations of human-built structures from high-resolution satellite images and add population data to it in collaboration with Columbia University,
  • our Disaster Maps, which contain aggregated, anonymized information about the availability of network coverage and power availability, as well as human mobility in the context of natural disasters,
  • our large-scale input into OpenStreetMap, for which we detect roads from high-resolution satellite images, prepare them for human review, and feed the results into OpenStreetMap

We will present details about the methods, challenges, and community feedback involved in producing these datasets, as well as the impact they've each had over the last two years.

Speaker: Andreas Gros

Data Scientist @Facebook

I am a scientist with a background in complex systems on Facebook’s spatial computing team. I work on the High-Resolution Settlement Layer and connectivity crisis data. I also work on spatial demographic questions. For my PhD I studied the evolution of dispersal strategies at the University of Wuerzburg, Germany. I expanded the work on spatial co-evolutionary systems as a postdoc at the New England Complex Systems Institute, where I also worked on spatial socio-economic systems, like ethnic violence. I received my diploma (equivalent to MS) in applied systems analysis at the Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Osnabrueck, Germany.

Find Andreas Gros at

Speaker: Shankar Iyer

Data Scientist @Facebook

Shankar Iyer is a research scientist on Facebook’s computational social science team. He is currently working on the company’s Disaster Mapping efforts, where Facebook data is aggregated to provide humanitarian organizations with a high-level view of how populations are affected by natural disasters. He has also worked on problems related to the social science of charitable giving and to efforts t omeasure the sense of community that people feel while using Facebook’s products. Prior to joining Facebook, Shankar was on the data science team at Quora. He also holds a Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics from Caltech.

Find Shankar Iyer at