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Big Data: Creating both Business and Societal Sea Changes

At Oraclae’s KScope User Group meeting yesterday, I heard a really riveting presentation given by Jake Porway, Founder of DataKind, which made me take pause.

Big Data:  Creating both Business and Societal Sea ChangesIt really brought to light Big Data’s capacity to impact all aspects of business *and* human life itself.  The point made was that we are at an inflection point in data, business intelligence and visualization that takes the conversation from making better decisions on what kind of movie we want to see to what kind of world we want to see.  And ultimately, do more together in the pursuit of good.

Data driven decisions affect us every day. Google Maps can take us from Point A to Point B. Retailers know what else we may want to buy. This is all very helpful in orchestrating the basic mechanics of life. However what’s increasingly intriguing are use cases in which organizations are also exploiting Big Data and intelligence for human causes. Molecular Health for example, puts to use a cutting-edge molecular science that scours the world’s data for the most highly prescriptive treatment for cancer patients.

Enabling yet another tangent of what’s possible is the organization Datakind. Its premise is to bring together data scientists and non-profits to envision answers to issues perhaps not even once comprehensible to understand how to solve. It’s giving data scientists a chance to work pro bono to make a social impact while at the same time providing a pool of talent to non-profits. Their recent causes have been to help preserve vaccines in developing countries, spotting winter flu trends real-time via Twitter conversations, mobilizing health in rural areas, and locating/examining 40,000 swimming pools in a west coast city to identify abandoned ones with stagnant water to proactively prevent malaria.

Where have you seen Big Data and intelligence have a significant impact on business or a human cause? What are you currently working on? I’d love to hear your thoughts on where this journey will take us.

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Maureen McCann

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