Calling All Big Data and Analytics Companies: It’s Time to Help Change the World

June 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm Leave a comment

By Terence Craig

The PatternBuilders team is a community of people who all believe Big Data can change the world in positive ways and that there is a huge commercial opportunity for the companies that can make it easy to use.  But we not only like working together, we also share some core values about ethical behavior, and doing our bit to make the planet a more pleasant, equitable, and safe place for everyone.  We take this pretty seriously and had been talking about ways we could leverage what we love (big data analytics) to help non-profits and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) become more efficient at supporting their missions. We had made some progress but finding the right group to help was a pretty daunting task!

Which is why I was so excited when I saw Jake’s article in the Guardian about starting the group Data Without Borders (DWB). The goal of DWB is to connect data scientists with NGOs and non profits that need their help. To quote Jake:

“Data Without Borders serves as a data science exchange, connecting enthusiastic data engineers with NGOs to help them handle big data problems. People are already spending their weekends playing with data, shouldn’t they get more than a blog post out of it?”

DWB will work with non-profits to develop and submit project proposals. They will then help to connect them with those “generous geeks” who can complete the project. Of course, it goes without saying that there are other social tech groups (like Ushahidi) out there but DWB is solely focused on “data collection, analysis, and visualization.” More importantly, they will help non-profits to understand what is often the unknown potential of big data analysis:

“We feel DWB has the potential to help organizations at all levels of competency, from NGOs with project-specific goals to non-profits who need someone to show them how to use data in ways they hadn’t yet imagined.”

I met Jake a couple of weeks ago, to talk about our technology and what he was doing with Big Data at the New York Times and came away incredibly impressed–well the beer candy thing is a little scary :-). 

He is a top notch data scientist that has done amazing work in a relatively short time on the planet and will continue to do so.  But I think if the “Big Data” community rallies behind DWB the way we should, it is likely to be his crowning achievement. We are going to try to do everything we can to help and I hope you will too.

Entry filed under: Data, General Analytics, Giving Back. Tags: , , , , , , .

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