Time is on our side


Antoine Bello · March 4, 2022

With a team of 20 people scattered in nine different countries, the Population Project is growing rapidly. We are organized in three units:

  • Programmers build the database that will one day host several billions of records. They encounter - and solve - new problems every day: how to automatically clean full names from various prefixes and suffixes (Jr, PhD, Mme…); until what age can we assume that a woman’s last name is also her maiden name; should we allow initials as first names, etc. Our team is based in the US and Canada and develops on 4D, the full-stack solution we have selected to power us.

  • Sourcers are scattered around the world. They look for lists in all countries using the Latin alphabet, i.e. pretty much the entire world minus Asia and Eastern Europe. To date, we have made strong to very strong progress in the US (our best territory), Costa Rica, the UK, France, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Chile, Venezuela, Cameroun, Tanzania, Mali, Burkina Faso. We have collected at least some data in about 100 countries.

  • Processors are based in Madagascar. They sort out and clean up the lists uploaded by sourcers. Experts in Excel, macros and text formats, they ensure the highest level of data quality.

Modern non-profits use the same communications tools as startups: Slack, Zoom, Airtable, Notion, Dropbox, Wise and many other dedicated tools. Except in Madagascar, there are no schedules: everybody makes their own hours. We all strongly believe in our mission. At first, the challenge of capturing the names and dates of birth of all humans alive can seem totally crazy. But we have a secret weapon: time. We only need to encounter a name once - at a graduation ceremony, in the New York marathon results or on a Brazilian official vaccination list - to add it to our database where it will stay forever. This is why even in hard times (and there are some) we remain confident: if we haven’t found your name yet, we will - in time.