The University of Michigan’s Institute for Data Science (MIDAS) PIT-KN team is a member of the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), which consists of 48 colleges and universities convened by New America, the Ford Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation. The network and challenge grants are funded through the support of the Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Mastercard Impact Fund, with support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, The Raikes Foundation, Schmidt Futures and The Siegel Family Endowment. 

The primary objective of the field of public interest technology – ensuring that the technology solutions are developed and deployed through collaboration, community building, knowledge, and innovation with historically marginalized voices as a force for public good. When tech solutions lack the vital perspectives of historically marginalized individuals we get racially biased algorithms that lead to inequity in health care, policing and housing, to surveillance and social media platforms that spread disinformation and negatively impact the mental health of young people and other vulnerable populations. We are only beginning to grapple with the enormity of the harms associated with irresponsible design or deployment of technology that disproportionately hurt historically marginalized communities. 

The PIT-KN team is seeking additional collaboration with industry and community-based partners, researchers, software developers, and students who are working at the intersection of technology and society. Our project focuses on three key research and design questions within the field of public interest technology, with the goal of developing a human-centered storytelling environment that complements research and data in a more personal way:

1) What would a democratized, traceable, and open source knowledge deriving from the lived experiences and technical approaches of historically marginalized social innovators look like?

2) How do we achieve community-driven data equity, stewardship, sustainability of knowledge and insights?

3) Given the prevalence of online harassment and hate speech on existing sociotechnical systems, how do we ensure open access while providing a safe and supportive digital environment?


For inquiries about the PIT-KN, please contact Tayo Fabusuyi.