Terms of Reference

Title: Research Assistant Consultant, New York
Department: Innovation Unit, Office of Executive Director
Location: New York Headquarters
Start Date: Immediate
Duration: 11 months
Reporting to: Manuel Garcia-Herranz, Research Scientist, UNICEF Innovation Unit


UNICEF’s Innovation Unit in New York helps UNICEF’s 135+ Country Offices strengthen programmes on the ground using innovative approaches and technologies, creating and guiding approaches that are transformative, at scale, for the world’s most vulnerable children. Innovation at UNICEF is a collaboration that translates ideas, technologies, and partnerships into products, services, and processes to bring about better, more equitable results for children. Strategically, the team looks at everything from using new and existing technologies, to engaging in new types of partnerships with external thinkers to deliver better results for children.

As part of the innovation process and framed into the UN efforts for the Data Revolution, UNICEF’s Innovation Unit has recently open a new line of focus around Data Science, looking into how Big Data analytics can better impact UNICEF’s work for children. This new agenda involves the wide spectrum of Big Data for Development, from identifying the most suitable sources of data, internal or external, developing methodologies to operationalize them and creating tools to leverage their use.

Purpose of Consultancy

UNICEF is seeking to hire a consultant that will assist the Big Data research team of the Innovation Unit, in particular around Real-time monitoring/Nowcasting, Human Mobilization and Emergencies; and using external data such as Twitter, Phone Records or blogs and internal data such as U-Report (http://www.ureport.in/).

Main Activities

Around the 3 main areas of research: Nowcasting, Human Mobilization and Emergencies, with attention to the 3 types of data: Internal data (e.g. U-Report) External-Public (e.g. Twitter, blogs) and External-Sensitive (e.g. Phone Records):

  • (Months 1-2) Support the Data acquisition and organization efforts of the Innovation Unit. Deliverable: comprehensive list of data sources and partners and data compilation, cleaning and merging.
  • (Months 3-4) Develop algorithms, methods and studies to push forward the use of Big Data for Development and Emergencies, with special focus on children. Deliverable: Code and Technical Documentation of developed methodologies.
  • (Months 5-6) Co-create scientific papers of findings, methodologies and experiences. Deliverable: Draft of  4-8 page scientific paper.
  • (Months 7-8) Co-create technical reports to inform UNICEF policy and programs around the use of Big Data for Development and Emergencies. Deliverable: Draft of  2-4 page technical report.
  • (Months 9-11) Develop visuals and applications to help operationalize and disseminate the use of Big Data for Development and Emergencies. Deliverable: Web interface or visual material

Qualifications and Education

  • Fair Scientific background: PhD/Master (or coursing PhD/Master) in Data Science related field such as computer science, applied mathematics, information technology, physics or software engineering.
  • Fair Data Analysis experience: able to showcase some relevant scientific publications or similar work; and experience with analytical tools and languages such as R (ideal), shell, awk or Python.
  • Some experience in working with maps: Shapefiles, GeoJSON…
  • Some Developing experience, with special interest on web based applications (e.g. HTML5, Javascript…) and data visualization libraries (e.g. D3.js)
  • Familiarity with data gathering mechanisms and APIs (e.g. web scrapping, Twitter API…), and data cleaning and preparation.
  • Ability to work in a team, in a diverse work environment and in simultaneous projects.
  • Ability to communicate findings and complex ideas verbally and in writing to a wide range of audiences.
  • Fluency in English
  • Motivation, creativity and good sense of humor are a must… well, they are for everything in life, we simply acknowledge it.

If you like research and computer science, have a good eye for identifying problems and solutions and a strong will for changing the humanitarian development arena… THIS IS YOUR PLACE


Salary commensurate with experience.
Monthly payment based on outputs to deliverables, certified upon monthly review and report with supervisor. UNICEF recourse in case of unsatisfactory performance.
Payment will only be made for work satisfactorily completed and accepted by UNICEF.

How to Apply:  

Send Resume/CV, Cover Letter and 2-3 samples of work or Case Studies of previous work and your role in it (PDF or URL will be sufficient) to unicef.jobs@gmail.com with Subject line: Research Assistant Big Data by May 28, 2015.

Please indicate your availability and monthly rate to undertake the terms of reference above.

**Applications submitted without a daily/monthly rate will not be considered.**

For questions, please email unicef.jobs@gmail.com with subject line: RESEARCH ASSISTANT BIG DATA

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