Neil Hendrick, Hunt Institute Fellow, working in Puerto Rico Recovery Effort

October 26, 2017

Neil standing in front of an air plane taking a selfie picture
Neil Hendrick in San Juan, Puerto Rico in post disaster recovery work

Recently appointed Fellow, Neil Hendrick, is working with the Hunt Institute in the area of big data while advising and mentoring students on the Map for Good project.

Hendrick has worked for Tulane University, The University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard University, as well as several international nongovernmental and governmental organizations, including PATH and the International Criminal Court.  Since 2006, he has worked to develop specific tools for digital data collection and promote their use by researchers, aid workers, and disaster responders.  As Lead Developer on the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s KoBo Toolbox project, Mr. Hendrick developed a software system for digital data collection and deployed the system on a series of large-scale population surveys. Encompassing survey design, data collection, database synchronization, analysis, and reporting, the KoBo Toolbox system provides a comprehensive suite of tools for research and monitoring. Mr. Hendrick has extensive international experience. He has completed research in the USA, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East.

Currently, Hendrick is in San Juan, Puerto Rico working in post disaster relief and rebuild effort, helping to get the town back online after this season’s devastating hurricanes. Here is an email he sent today that gives a snapshot of the “boots on the ground” work he is doing:


“Greetings from San Juan,

I just thought I would drop a note to the Hunt Institute to tell you all is going well in Puerto Rico. I have been working to connect cell phone and internet towers, working with communication companies, government agencies, and NGOs, nominally led by a disaster response organization called NetHope.
The basic scheme is that these communication companies need technical and material support to get their networks back online, serving communications through a network of fiber and radio links. NetHope sends out teams of network engineers, tower climbers, and knockaround guys to do the work, and in return NetHope is given about 10Mb of bandwidth on the network that we can then shoot out from towers to the town hall, hospitals, police stations, etc., so that they have internet access. My function is part heavy-lifting donkey, and part network configuration. That means basically that, when I am not dragging spools of cable from place to place, I squat in the server room at the base of a cell phone tower on top of a mountain and program radios to talk to each other.
I will return at the end of the month, and if I can send more updates in the meantime, I will do so. At this moment, I have to drive to Aibonito to climb on top of the City Hall building to see if it has a line-of-sight to the nearest cell phone tower.
Hasta la proxima vez,
As a Research Technologist, Hendrick develops software and hardware solutions for research teams and directs the applications of these solutions in the field. As a software developer and field research supervisor, Hendrick has wide practical experience in conducting research, creating and implementing software and hardware improvements to the research process, and managing data collection systems. The technologies he develops allow for the collection of quantitative and qualitative survey data, GPS points, video, audio, and other applications. Mr. Hendrick manages the logistics for employing technologies for research, including team training, data collection supervision, and field-based troubleshooting.  He also develops customized databases, manages data analysis, synchronizes data processes for research teams, and specializes in data visualization and presentation (infographic design). He has executed projects in the USA, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East.

We are honored to have him on the Hunt Institute roster of Fellows. In addition to all the work he is involved in, he brings an incredible layer to the student development part of our program. For more information or to get in contact with Neil, you can reach him at:

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