My name is Simone, I come from Italy and I like describing myself as a traveler across global development, with a focus on agriculture and environment, via technology.
I have always been terribly inquiring, since I was a child. This is probably the reason why I have been roaming across Academia and Practice, and within both. At least this is how I explain my non-linear pathway from the Computer Science Department (where I graduated by focusing on ICT4D) to the Department of Crop Sciences of the University of Milan (where I received a PhD by working on ICT applied to food security and climate change adaptation) and to the Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (my first assignment as a PostDoc). The same curiosity-driven pathway applies to my assignments with international organizations, governmental institutions, and NGOs alike.
Should you want to know more about my work as a researcher and practitioner feel free to scroll down the page, or cut a long story short by checking out my visualized resume. You can always just ping me at simonesala(at)gmail(dot)com if you are in the mood for talking!
Currently, I am a Senior Research Affiliate at Data Pop Alliance. I have been the Associate Director of the Steve Chan’s Sensemaking Fellowship, which has been anchored at Swansea University, IBM, and the MIT International Development Initiative. I have been carrying out research with the Columbia University‘s Center for International Conflict Resolution, the Università della Svizzera Italiana NewMinE Lab, and the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Milan. My research spans from the application of ICT for Development (ICT4D), with a focus on mobiles and big data for agricultural development & resilience-building, to environmental security issues in developing and emerging regions. You can have a look at some of my presentations, and here you can find most of my publications.
Teaching & sharing knowledge
I love teaching – aka learning with experts in other fields. I have been teaching both online and offline – mainly in the area of ICT4D, ICT for agricultural development, and ICT for improved water management. More recently, I organized and run capacity development workshops in Ghana, Haiti, Lebanon, and Thailand on behalf of FAO. I actively participated to 50+ international events around the world to share knowledge on agricultural development, climate change, ICT4D, agtech.
I have been working as a consultant for governmental and non-governmental institutions in around 20 countries in Europe, the Caribbean region, Central & South America, Near East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Among the projects I am most proud of, I coordinated an international team of experts to improve water management of the Orontes river basin through data-informed policies with the Ministry of Water and Energy. Within the framework of the EXACT-ME initiative, I successfully led a feasibility study to create an information system to share data over water among national water authorities of Israel, Jordan and Palestine. Thanks to a FAO project, I co-designed a suite of mobile services named ChispaRural.GT with a team of young Guatemalans for promoting the access of rural youth to job and entrepreunership resources. Lately, I conducted M&E of innovative digital services supporting micro-finance institutions in Ethiopia established through the CommonSense project.
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