Social Impact , we want you

Social Impact <Coder/>, we want you

26 July 2016  unicefstories

Download the complete Terms of Reference here

Title: Software Developer, Consultant

Location of Assignment: New York, USA

Language(s) Required: English, knowledge of another official UN language is an asset

Travel: Minimal travel anticipated

Duration: 11.5 months

Section & Unit: Office of Innovation

Consultant Reporting to Senior Advisor, Innovation


Want to use your coding skills to do good in this world? Good, we want to talk to you.

UNICEF Innovation is looking for a top-notch developer to create products that solve problems in the developing world. We’re open source and agile. We use node, firebase, polymer, and react now, but you’ll choose your own stack when prototyping from scratch.

You’ll work with a group of entrepreneurs, developers, research scientists and designers on a wide variety of projects. For example, we have a platform, in development with volunteer engineers from Google, that process data from different sources (weather, socioeconomic, travel patterns) in order to forecast the spread of infectious diseases and visualize potential outbreaks:

What else will you do while you’re with us? A lot… You’ll research emerging technologies like blockchain and smart contracts, then prototype potential solutions for identity, cash remittance, and decentralized autonomous organizations.

You’ll write code that impacts the delivery of critical messages to people in need.

Where will you do all this? Alongside an awesome team of about 25 people based at UNICEF HQ in Manhattan, New York, where you’ll have access to networks of professionals and academics who pioneer technology.


The UNICEF Innovation Unit functions like a collection of startups in early-stage. Promising new technologies (data science, SMS technologies, UAVs) are identified that have potential to impact UNICEF core operations (education, health, disaster response). Through our network of technology companies, UNICEF country offices, and academic institutions, we construct pilots to quickly determine if projects should be continued or discontinued. Innovation Unit New York provides support to innovation leads in X country offices and consists of a flat team of technologists, designers, programmers, researchers and communication specialists. Requests for collaboration, advice and support are fielded from UNICEF programmes, other parts of the UN system and the humanitarian technology ecosystem.

We also have a small venture fund – the UNICEF Innovation Fund – which provides resources to quickly assess, fund and scale companies, teams, and ideas that have been developed in new and emerging markets. The Innovation Fund supports the generation of open source, public goods that address the most pressing challenges facing children.

Purpose of Consultancy

To research emerging technologies, suggest problems they can solve in the developing world, and then prototype the solutions.

You will contribute to the development and maintenance of open source software projects and systems that support country offices while staying current with the latest technologies; ply them according to best practices.

You will expand the UNICEF Innovation GitHub repository with open source applications that demonstrate the work of the data science team while iteratively prototyping with the UI/UX team.

Ongoing Projects That the Candidate Will Be Expected To Support:

  • MagicBox : A platform to process big data from different sources to be used for humanitarian needs.
  • The Innovation Fund Site: A realtime illustration of investments of donor money toward open source technologies for children.
  • Blockchain: Research, consulting and prototyping applications for humanitarian purposes.
  • IOGT & uReport Dashboards: A collection of web components that:
    • Visualize the effectiveness of messaging through twitter, Rapidpro, and the Internet of Good Things network.
    • Summarize trends in interest and technology per country.

The applicant must hold a Bachelor’s degree and/or Master’s degree and 3-5 years of professional experience in a relevant field.

Key competencies, technical background, and experience required:

Experience or knowledge in the following areas is desired:

  • High volume data streams
  • System integration: interface design, API development.
  • Experience with some of the following technologies:
    • Processing: Hadoop-based technologies e.g. Spark
    • Database systems: Mongo, SQL, HDFS. Experience with relational and NoSQL databases
    • Cloud hosting: necessary: Azure, good-to-have: Amazon Web Services
    • Architecture: parallelization, distributed systems design
    • At least one modern object-oriented programming language, especially Ruby or Python
    • Deploying and maintaining software remotely on a Linux or UNIX-like server
  • Expertise with some of the following:  node.js, firebase, react.js, d3, mongodb, polymer, mocha, phantom.js, python, ruby, rails, mongodb, and heroku.
  • Knowledge of environment in which UNICEF operates, and understanding the constraints of working in a developing world environment. This should include experience developing low-bandwidth applications in challenging work environments.
  • Ability to align technical goals with UNICEF strategic goals — that always will mean UNICEF’s mission over any particular technology
  • Willingness to travel (sometimes on short notice) and develop software in the field, directly with end-users
  • Fluency in written and verbal English is a must; competence in at least one other UN language is preferred


Fluency in English. Knowledge of another official UN language is an asset.


Interested and suitable candidates are requested to send their applications with Subject “Software Developer, Consultant” to on or before 10 August 2016.

Applications must include the following:

Incomplete applications will be disqualified. Applicants must clearly indicate the position applied for and use this order to name file attachments: Firstname_Lastname followed by document e.g. Gold_Mukasa_CV or Gold_Mukasa_CoverLetter. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Download the complete Terms of Reference and complete monthly deliverables here

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UNICEF is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality, and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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