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MSc Thesis graduate student “Epidemics Priority Index modelling



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MSc Thesis graduate student “Epidemics Priority Index modelling

Van18-08-2017 LocatieDen Haag UrenStage OpleidingWO


We help to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience by responding to disasters and crises. And by supporting Disaster Risk Reduction for communities and building the response capacity of Red Cross societies in disaster prone countries. Together, we act before, during and after disasters to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. We do this irrespective of nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinion. Our seven principles guide our humanitarian work: humanity, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality.


Position title:               MSc Thesis graduate student “Epidemics Priority Index modelling”

Duty station:               The Hague (but flexible)

Time period:               4-6 months (depending on your institution’s requirements)

Status:                        Student


About 510 and its place within the Netherlands Red Cross

510 is a self-organizing data innovation initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross. Our vision is that smart use of (big) data will help towards faster and more (cost) effective humanitarian aid at a global level. Contributing to open data, data analyses and capacity building in governments and NGOs are essential to increase the understanding of humanitarian data. We want to shape the future of humanitarian aid by converting data into understanding, and to put it in the hands of humanitarian relief workers, decision makers and people affected, so that they can better prepare for and cope with disasters and crises.

The 510 initiative was established early 2016 and has grown since into a team of 40 core and project staff, graduates, students, trainees and volunteer data experts with diverse backgrounds. The team is developing data and digital solutions for both international and domestic humanitarian aid. Our main results are published on

510 works together with all departments of the Netherlands Red Cross, as well as with different teams in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), other Red Cross National  Societies, Universities in The Netherlands and abroad, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), national governments and through the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation (DCHI) with other NGOs and businesses.

We work in virtual teams using a fully digital collaboration environment, which enables us to bridge time differences and physical distances and to continuously work together on some of the most difficult humanitarian challenges. However, we also greatly value the opportunity to work together in a face-to-face setting, which is possible in our office in The Hague.

We invite data literate, bright and creative people, with a hands-on mentality and technical skills to join our team. All our team members should be highly self-motivated to improve the way humanitarian aid is delivered.


Purpose of the position

The Priority Index is a prediction model that predicts high priority areas after a disaster based on a combination of community risk assessment data, geographical data on the terrain, weather information on the imminent hazard (such as wind speeds and rainfall) and official damage data from past similar disasters. It uses state-of-the art machine learning and data mining algorithms. Using this model priority areas can be identified within hours after the disaster has occurred. The tool is part of a larger Data Preparedness program where the objective is to build data literacy among local humanitarian local responders and make sure decision makers make data-driven decisions during aid operations.

The program encompasses applications for natural disasters such as typhoons, floods and earthquakes. A priority index for epidemics is the next topic of interest for the application and its development will be the core of the proposed master student assignment. 


Goals and activities

The research by the MSc will include the following phases:

  • Establishment of state -of-the art and current practice via
  • Data search via online search of open data and interviews with organization that have health data availability (e.g. WHO, European CDC, US-CDC, IFRC, other NGOs e.g. Amref)
  • Scoping and selection of a case study (i.e. with data in one country), zooming in on one infectious disease and one geographic area.
  • Development of a priority index prototype based on the result of the data search activity via quantitative description and coding
  • Presentation of the results of the development phase to a sample of stakeholders for feedback collection
  • Reporting


Research questions

The following are examples of research questions that can guide the MSc assignment:

  • What is the current practice and state of the art to predict epidemics at community level, with community level workers and volunteers?
  • What is a minimum set of data to assess the risk of epidemics (at community level)? Are the data available?
  • How can the data be integrated in a data collection framework for risk assessment? How is the data related to other surveillance systems (national; disease & laboratory)
  • What would be a suitable algorithm to base a prediction model for epidemics on?



  • Bringing your knowledge, experience and passions to the team.
  • Affinity with – and motivated by – the 510 mission and vision.
  • Currently following a University Master’s degree, has excellent grades at the university and is in the phase of doing a masters graduation project.
  • Preferably in the field of Epidemiology or otherwise strong Data and Health related background.
  • Is fluent in English.


We offer

A graduation position. We offer travel compensation to our office in the Hague. You will be part of a vibrant community of data-driven humanitarians. We share and teach one another where possible.



Please reply to this advert with a motivation letter stating :

  1. Why you’re interested in doing this graduation project in less than 100 words.
  2. What currently interests you in less than 100 words.  
  3. A TED talk that you thought was particularly interesting.

And your CV


For more information about the position, you can contact Stefania Giodini,


The post will be open until the right candidate has been found.


For more information about the Netherlands Red Cross, take a look at and The NLRC on facebook: and Twitter:


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