Nov 29, 2016

Holiday donation jar

‘Tis the season for giving.   When out shopping at this time of year, you often hear the sound of the ringing bells and see the volunteers standing beside their donation kettles, hoping to remind you that there are others out there that need your help.   For most of us, it’s easy to drop in some change or even something larger and feel like you’re helping your fellow man.

Whether giving as an individual or donating at a corporate level, money seems to be our ‘go to’ resource when it comes time to helping.  While this is obviously useful, I recently watched a great video on Ted Talks that discussed another way that corporations could help solve humanitarian issues.   And given the fact that my job allows me to work with vast amounts of data, it really struck a chord with me.

Mallory Soldner, a data activist and engineer, eagerly presented the idea that your company’s data could be another valuable resource when it comes to solving global issues.  Think about this for a moment.  The amount of data sitting on your servers that you have collected over the years provides you with advanced analytics regarding the operations of your business. What are some other things that it could be communicating?   

Mallory uses the example of a cell phone company that provides their data to humanitarian organizations to analyze movements of people.   Satellite companies could provide information on weather and land conditions to help predict potential areas of disaster.  Data that might not seem valuable to them, might be invaluable to an organization trying to determine anything from the impact of natural disasters to coordinating providing nutrition for a travelling group of refugees.

Aside from the altruistic benefits of providing your data, what else can your company get out of it?  Well, it has been shown that when a company’s data is viewed through the lens of humanitarian perspectives, that other previously unseen combinations are revealed, which could help the business in their everyday operations.

Mallory does stress that data is ‘cleansed’ so that there are no privacy issues.

So, if you work for a company that has a lot of data on hand, you might want to consider checking out the full video.   And the next time you’re dropping your change in the donation kettle during the holiday season, think about the benefits your company’s data could provide.

Watch the full video