Big Data: From Presidential Campaign to Social Good #DataDigest

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This week check out how big data tools from the Obama presidential campaign are now being repurposed for social good and there is also some insight into the potential and pitfalls of big data for humanitarian efforts. Examples of open government data reuse in US by private corporations and nonprofits is also highlighted and a webinar to help those that also want to use it is being hosted this month. Floodlight, an interesting data storytelling tool for communities is also featured.

Big Data
Data Won the U.S. Election. Now Can It Save the World?
This MIT Technology Review post talks about how Rayid Ghani, and other Data scientists that helped with the re-election of President Obama are now using big data for social good. For example Edgeflip, a new initiative plans to turn the ad hoc data analysis tools developed for the campaign into software that can make nonprofits more effective at raising money and recruiting volunteers. “Targeted sharing”, which was used for the campaign now forms the basis of Edgeflip’s first product. It uses a Facebook app to prompt people to share information from a nonprofit, but only with those friends predicted to respond favourably. He says however that a lack of data scientists wanting to work for such social causes may stands in the way of his vision.

Analysis: Potential, pitfalls of "big data" for humanitarians
Even as analysts caution against overreliance on big data, humanitarians and crisis-affected communities are increasingly exploiting these new technologies to gather near real-time information to prepare for, prevent and handle disasters. In this post Dana MacLean, uses examples to discuss the opportunities that lie in using big data to improve aid systems and humanitarian assistance. Also mentioned is NGOs competition from peer-to-peer type grassroots relief efforts as smaller community-driven organizations use technology to operate on the same level as bigger NGOs. Some of the pitfalls identified include blindspots, and biases in the data itself, which limits its utility and alienation of humanitarian workers from communities because of virtual interaction.

Open Government Data
7 Ways Companies Are Using the Government's Open Data
This Mashable post looks at some of the ways that commercial and non-profit organisations are using U.S. open government data to improve education and health care, decrease energy consumption and increase socially minded buying. It summaries what was mentioned in the White House’s recently released Smart Disclosure And Consumer Decision Making report. The names of organisations have however been anonymised.

Strengthening the Demand For and Use Of Open Data Initiatives
This webinar on 18 June which is supported by Global Integrity and the World Bank Institute will explore how to maximize the usage and relevancy of open government data through using examples and recommending strategies and tools. Some of the topics to be discussed include: best practices on conducting hackathons and ensuring the sustainability of results as well as making the most out of apps competitions. It will also advise on ways to enhance the capacity of NGOs and citizens to use, reuse, and adapt the data for their needs.

Data Storytelling
Floodlight uses stories and data to advance community change
Rebecca Arno, describes the use of Floodlight which provides a simple intuitive set of story-building tools to help communities create a visually rich, shareable story that is tagged by subject and geography.  The tool can embed video, audio, photos and data visualizations easily with text. Skill-building tools are also available for storytellers and they organise “story-raisings” community events with storytelling experts that share their knowledge.