Data Science &
Emerging Technologies Program

Applications for Advancing Health and Human Rights

The Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights

The Harvard FXB Center is a university-wide human rights center committed to advancing the health and well-being of vulnerable populations around the world. Center faculty pursue a rights-based approach to advocate for children and families affected by war, disasters or extreme poverty. The Center generates evidence-based recommendations for policies affecting the most vulnerable. The Center’s training initiatives include a wide variety of courses, seminars, workshops and online programs at Harvard and overseas. International partners include non-profits, advocacy groups, government agencies, humanitarian organizations and UN agencies.

The Data Science and Emerging Technologies Program supports the Center by applying cutting edge tools in data science, visual analytics and digital health to the Center’s research, training, advocacy and field-practice programs.

Current Initiatives


The mobile, cloud-based EMcounter disease surveillance system has been deployed in a variety of settings including at the world’s largest mass gatherings. Using human centered design, dynamic data visualization tools and smart technology, EMcounter has brought state of the art disease surveillance tools to low resource settings. This low cost intervention has the potential to improve healthcare quality, safety, and accountability at scale.

Partners: National Disaster Management Authority of India, Government of Maharashtra, RTI International Data Science Center, Unicef-India, Weill Cornell Global Emergency Medicine Division

Sponsors: Harvard South Asia Institute, Unicef, Government of Maharashtra

Exchanging Health Information Initiative (XHI)

XHI, launched in 2017, in collaboration with the Harvard South Asia Initiative, partners with public and private sector stakeholders in India (and researchers at Harvard) to support secure seamless exchange of health information for advancing health care delivery, quality and safety.

The Initiative follows the "Exchanging health information" seminar, sponsored by the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study. With a focus on emerging economies, and using India as a case study, seminar deliberations focused on the adoption of API-based health ecosystems to promote health information exchange securely. Discussants sought to describe health information data-ownership in terms of "consent" and "access,"" and emphasized the need for brining existing laws in step with emerging technologies.

Partners: National eHealth Portal of India, Indian Council of Medical Research, Gates Foundation, Apollo Hospital, HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Columbia Asia, IBM, Oracle, OpenMRS, ThoughtWorks, India Stack, Digital Asia Hub, and others.

Sponsor: Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study.

The full report is available here.

3T for Advancing Health Equity

3T studies the impact of simultaneous deployment of Task-shifting, Technology and Training on improving healthcare delivery in resource poor settings. The project will augment healthcare delivery by providing additional training, mobile technology and decision-support to healthcare providers including non-physicians and non-allopathic physicians in two districts in India.

Partners: Govt. of Maharashtra (Public Health Department), Harvard South Asia Institute

Early Signal for Mass Atrocities

Building on Dr. Leaning’s extensive research in complex humanitarian emergencies, this project seeks to build prediction models for signaling mass atrocities, by monitoring hate speech in all traditional and modern modes of communication including news and social media.

Data Visualization for Policy Makers

The Hong Kong Scoping Study

In 2015, the FXB Center led a large a multi-institutional study to map disaster preparedness training needs in Hong Kong. The Scoping Study included interviews with over 1000 residents of Hong Kong, over 200 first responders and 25 key policy makers and resulted in recommendations for the disaster response community at large, and the HKJC DPRI in particular. Study findings were shared through a series of policy briefs, conferences, a white paper and an interactive, dynamic data visualization tool aimed at allowing policy makers to query the research findings more easily.

The Maharashtra Health Data Network Analysis

In 2016-17, FXB researchers, supported by the Harvard South Asia Institute and the Tata Trust undertook an exhaustive mapping exercise of health information flow across multiple nodes in the primary care delivery system, and across various vertical programs and tiers of care. The project, scheduled for completion in the summer of 2017 will demonstrate opportunities to eliminate redundancy and waste-age in data collection, transfer and storage. The analysis will a) help optimize person-hours spent in data entry versus providing actual clinical care; and b) provide the only network map of health information flow to help design an API-based mobile data collection, analysis and retrieval system in the State.

Collaborators: Govt. of Maharashtra, UNICEF


For more information about the Data Science and Emerging Technologies Program at the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, please contact Satchit Balsari or Arlan Fuller.

FXB Building, 7th Floor
651 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115