AI for Social Welfare Research Lab

Equipment/facility: lab


    The AI for SW lab was founded by Dr. Talia Meital Schwartz-Tayri on 2021.
    The lab is part of the Spitzer Department of Social Work at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev and leads multidisciplinary research projects.
    ‚ÄčArtificial intelligence (AI) and big data increasingly pervade all life areas and transform social science. Harnessing big data from public administrative systems was recognized as a powerful tool for identifying, characterization, and delineating social, health, and environmental problems over time and across populations and establishing best practices and evidence-based policy.

    To seize the opportunities AI applications offer society, the first Israeli AI in Social Welfare lab leads innovative research using big-data and machine learning in Social Welfare in collaboration with national institutions operationalizing AI ethics of fairness, privacy, reliability, and transparency.
    While Israel has developed a comprehensive social welfare system, health, and education system, a large proportion of the public faces numerous social, economic, and health problems. In 2019, more than 30% of Israeli children lived in poverty; most of them were under the surveillance of welfare services. Israeli public systems such as welfare, education, health, labor, and the National Insurance Institute have been using advanced information systems to document Israel's population's profiles, income, and service delivery. However, despite extensive and diverse datasets in Israeli public systems, Israeli research has only limitedly incorporated and used these data to undertake machine-learning methods to develop preventive care and proactive social policy.

    The AI for SW lab is part of the international Data for Good movement and consists of research experts from the Spitzer Department of Social Work at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev and welfare organizations in Israel and the United States. The lab leads interdisciplinary research in data science, social welfare, pediatrics, education, health, and public policy experts. AI for SW lab is committed to developing the infrastructure needed to realize the potential of AI to improve outcomes for vulnerable populations in Israel and across the globe. Our team collaborates with policymakers at various national institutions, including Soroka Medical Center, the National Forensic Clinic, and Stars Behavioral Health Group (SBHG) in California. Together we share the vision of advancing the science of public services through more rigorous use of existing data.

    The AI for SW lab studies an extensive range of social phenomena and policy domains - from child and family welfare to end-of-life research- to reflect a comprehensive lifespan perspective on human phenomena and the most recent human and community resilience theories.

    The newest projects of the Lab involve identifying child physical abuse using state-of-the-art data science methods, examining the resilience of at-risk children using a 29-year linked administrative dataset, and utilizing predictive analytics for prevention in child welfare policy. These studies use cutting-edge technologies to conduct the most advanced social work research and nurture a new generation of social work research students in the field of Social Welfare and AI.


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