Archive for the ‘Data Without Borders’ Category

Bridging the Data Science Gap (DataKind)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Bridging the Data Science Gap

From the post:

Data Without Borders connects data scientists with social organizations to maximize their impact.

Data scientists want to contribute to the public good. Social organizations often boast large caches of data but neither the resources nor the skills to glean insights from them. In the worst case scenario, the information becomes data exhaust, lost to neglect, lack of space, or outdated formats. Jake Porway, Data Without Borders [DataKind] founder and The New York Times data scientist, explored how to bridge this gap during the second Big Data for the Public Good seminar, hosted by Code for America and sponsored by Greenplum, a division of EMC.

Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka opened the seminar with an appeal to the data practitioners in the room to volunteer for social organizations and civic coding projects. She pointed to hackathons such the ones organized during the nationwide event Code Across America as being examples of the emergence of a new kind of “third place”, referencing sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s theory that the health of a civic society depends upon shared public spaces that are neither home nor work. Hackathons, civic action networks like the recently announced Code for America Brigade, and social organizations are all tangible third spaces where data scientists can connect with community while contributing to the public good.

These principles are core to the Data Without Borders [DataKind] mission. “Anytime there’s a process, there’s data,” Porway emphasized to the audience. Yet much of what is generated is lost, particularly in the third world, where a great amount of information goes unrecorded. In some cases, the social organizations that often operate on shoestring budgets may not even appreciate the value of what they’re losing. Meanwhile, many data scientists working in the private sector want to contribute their skills for the social good in their off-time. “On the one hand, we have a group of people who are really good at looking at data, really good at analyzing things, but don’t have a lot of social outputs for it,” Porway said. “On the other hand, we have social organizations that are surrounded by data and are trying to do really good things for the world but don’t have anybody to look at it.”

The surplus of free work to be done is endless but thought you might find this interesting.

Data Without Borders – name change -> DataKind, Facebook page, @datakind on Twitter.

Good opportunity to show off your topic mappings skills!