The Urban Institute and IBM team up to fight inequality using AI

By | 2 minute read | March 11, 2021

Today, we’re launching a project with the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit research organization, the Urban Institute, which for more than 50 years has led an impressive range of research efforts spanning social, racial, economic and climate issues at the national level. The IBM Data Science Elite team will collaborate with the Urban Institute to further their work on measuring neighborhood change across the United States by applying advanced analytics and AI capabilities to support the Urban Institute’s mission — translating research findings into action by helping stakeholders craft relevant solutions and strategies that address today’s societal concerns and avert tomorrow’s policy roadblocks.

Through the partnership, IBM and the Urban Institute seek to identify neighborhoods at risk of community decline or gentrification and enable timely policy proposals to prevent displacement. For policy interventions to succeed, real-time analysis of changes in the neighborhoods is critical. The project will use IBM Cloud Pak® for Data as a Service to conduct deep data analysis and create and deploy machine learning models. The project will also leverage AutoAI on the platform, which is especially valuable for smaller data science teams to automatically build model pipelines and quickly iterate through feasible models and feature selection, which are highly time-consuming tasks in a typical machine learning lifecycle. IBM’s support will enable the teams to surface insights from housing and demographic changes across several metropolitan areas in a collaborative environment, speeding up future analyses in different geographies.

Together, this engagement and collaboration aims to empower the field to utilize US Census data as it becomes publicly available to provide a near real-time assessment of communities across the country. In addition to providing insights on existing data, the project can also help uncover shortcomings in available data, enabling future field studies to fill the gaps more efficiently.

The social sector continues to be challenged by the dual realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing economic crisis. Today, as many nonprofits look to technology to help them emerge more resilient from the crises, too often they lack the tools, know-how, or budgets to experiment with more advanced technology capabilities such as AI.

IBM and the Urban Institute’s joint initiative is part of IBM’s ongoing efforts to ensure technology is used appropriately and productively to address social inequality.  The project will serve as a powerful example of how social sector organizations can harness the power of data and AI to address society’s most critical challenges and create impact for global communities at scale.

IBM is committed to advancing tech-for-good efforts, dedicating IBM® tools and skills to work on the toughest societal challenges. Building on the IBM Science for Social Good initiative, the IBM Data and AI team is helping nonprofit organizations to accelerate their mission and impact by applying data science and machine learning approaches to social impact use cases.

Interested in learning more? Discover how other organizations are using IBM Cloud Pak for Data to drive impact in their business, and the world.