Antwi Akom, Ph.D.
Professor & Founding Director of Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab (SOUL)
Dr. Antwi Akom is the Director of the Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab—a joint research lab between UCSF and SFSU (SOULLAB.co). His research lies at the intersection of science, technology, spatial epidemiology, community development, health communications, medical sociology, ethnic studies, African American studies, culturally responsive human centered design, Big Data, and public health. Dr. Akom is also a faculty affiliate with UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP) at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center where he focuses on researching, developing, and deploying new health information communication technologies that amplify the voices of communities often excluded from digital and physical public spheres and connecting them with resources that improve health literacy, data literacy, health care delivery, and promote equitable economic development for vulnerable populations. Dr. Akom has an extensive background in building collaborative, community-facing technology projects and new models of urban innovation that help cities become smarter, more equitable, just and sustainable.
Prior to joining UCSF/CVP, Dr. Akom co-founded and launched a series of technology projects in the San Francisco Bay area, including, Streetwyze—a mobile, mapping, and SMS platform that enables real time community-generated data to be integrated with predictive analytics so that health care providers, hospitals, CBO’s, and cities are empowered with forward looking knowledge to track health equity indicators, improve service delivery, and predict future trajectories for vulnerable populations. Streetwyze, has been recognized and/or collaborated with Homeless populations, Hospitals, Health Care Systems,The Obama Administration, Race Forward/The Center for Social Inclusion, PolicyLink, EcoDistricts, Google, Aclima, Residents United for Action Network (RUN), Asian Health Services, Mithun, Perkins and Will, the Movement Strategies Center, Oakland Creative Neighborhood Council, Bay Area Organization of Black Owned Business (BAOBOB), Artist Thrive, Enterprise Community partners, Right 2 Root, Iron Bound Community Corp, and the Rockefeller Foundations 100 resilient cities to name a few. Dr. Akom’s work has also been featured in award winning publications such as: the Atlantic's City lab, The Root, Tech Republic, Green Biz, Tech Crunch, and Ed Weekly, as one of the new mobile platforms and racial, spatial, and neighborhood innovation processes designed to build power and self determination with vulnerable populations and involve everyday people in the decisions that impact their everyday lives. He holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, a Masters degree in Urban Education from Stanford University,and a Ph.D. in Urban Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Akom is currently a Professor in Africana Studies specializing in Health, Medicine, Nutrition, Social and Spatial Epidemiology, Urban Planning, and Climate Justice. His most recent TEDx Talk is called Innovation Out of Poverty. He holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, a Masters degree in Urban Education from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Urban Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Akom is currently a Professor in Africana Studies specializing in Health, Medicine, Nutrition, Social and Spatial Epidemiology, Urban Planning, and Climate Justice and an a faculty of affiliate with the EDD program.
Key areas of research include: Social determinants of health, health information technologies, health communications, health literacy, health policy, GIS, people sensing, mobile platforms, food security, community engagement, data democratization, data visualization, Community-generated data, Big data, data analytics, digital resiliency, STEAM education, community engaged design, Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), Community Based Participatory Action Research (CBPR), neighborhood revitalization, social media, social marketing, social innovation, inter-disciplinary research collaboration, mentoring of junior faculty or trainees, race, space, place, and waste.