We want to change the world with data

Since 2013, Data-Pop Alliance has worked to apply cutting edge data science to solve the world’s most pressing problems. As the 2030 deadline for the UN sustainable development goals approaches, we believe novel approaches are needed to enhance the efficacy of the global development sector and reach those most in need. 


Data-Pop Alliance is a non-profit “think-and-do-tank” created in 2013 by partners from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Connection Science, and ODI that brings together researchers, practitioners, and activists who want to “Change the World with Data” through 3 pillars of work: 


local realities and human problems with data and AI.


capacities, communities, and ideas towards more data literate and inclusive societies.


the systems and processes that underpin our datafied communities and countries.

Our work spans Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, and covers six thematic Programs:


At DPA we strive to “Change the World with Data”. We believe that under the correct theory of change, data can have a positive and deeply transformative effect on our societies.


we must keep using data as a lens through which clearer, fairer, and more relevant evidence on the state and workings of the world are produced and widely shared.


we must continue building—within and between countries and geographies—the skills, norms, and trust required for facts to matter and to nurture more respectful and reasoned discourse and decision-making processes.


we must push for new values and goals to be encoded into rules and standards—technological, legal, ethical, cultural— which are able to ensure more equitable structures and withstand future shocks.

Our Values

Down-to-earth: We work with team members and partners in the Global South countries and communities, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa, to try to address local human problems with local perspectives. Our ultimate objective is local impact through systemic change.

Academic Excellence: We strive to meet the intellectual standards of our founding groups at Harvard and MIT and are privileged to be able to rely on some of the world’s brightest minds and best groups to do so.

Trans-disciplinary: We cover and combine expertise and experiences in several disciplines including data and computer sciences, economics, demography, ethics, political science, law, humanitarian action (and even some cartooning).

Activism: We aim to contribute to real social change, in particular greater equity in the post-COVID-19 world, by reflecting and promoting humanistic values of inclusion, participation, and empowerment.

Join us by supporting our mission:

Founding Organizations

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) is a Harvard university-wide center created in 2005 to provide expertise in public health, social science, and other disciplines to relieve human suffering in war and disaster by advancing the science and practice of humanitarian response. HHI is supported by the Office of the Provost, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the participation of Faculty from over 12 Harvard schools.

MIT Connection Science
The MIT Connection Science is a multi-disciplinary team working in the fields of AI, Data, and BlockChain. Their goal is to revolutionize technology-mediated human networks through analysis, prediction, data-driven design, and evaluation by partnering with progressive enterprises and government policy makers to help them develop strategies and solutions for data privacy, digital identity, AI systems and digital currency.

ODI is a leading development policy think tank in the United Kingdom with an established international reputation. For 50 years the institute has been working with public and private sector partners in developing countries to reduce poverty, alleviate suffering, and achieve sustainable livelihoods.


Dr Emmanuel Letouzé

Director and
Co-Founder of DPA

Prof. Patrick Vinck

Co-Founder of DPA

Prof. Alex “Sandy” Pentland

Director of the MIT Connection Science

Dr Claire Melamed

CEO of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

Prof. Phuong Pham

Assistant Professor at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Dr Emma Samman

Research Associate
at ODI


To learn more about DPA’s inception, read the co-founders blogpost “Why We Created Data-Pop Alliance”.

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab, and ODI co-found DPA.
Rockefeller Foundation grants DPA $400K USD in seed funding.
DPA joins ThoughtWorks as part of its civil society organization incubation program.
DPA registers in the USA as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
DPA is awarded a $550K USD contract to help develop Colombia’s first National Big Data Strategy with MIT.
With a team of six full-time staff, DPA completes a project portfolio of USD 500K.
DPA opens its branch in Mexico as an officially registered civil association.
As COVID-19 hits, DPA wins contracts to conduct data-driven socioeconomic impact assessments in 11 South-Saharan African countries. By the end of the tear, the team has grown to 20 full-time staff.
DPA opens its branch in Senegal as a non-profit organization. DPA completes a project portfolio worth over USD 1.2m.
DPA opens its branch in France as a non-profit organization. The organization has now grown to 35 core team members.