Monday 15 June 2015

Using Data Science for the Greater Good #SASGF15

One of the keynote sessions at this year's SAS Global Forum (SGF) was by Jake Porway on the subject of using data for social good. Jake is CEO of DataKind - a charitable organisation established in 2011 to harness the power of data science for the benefit of humanity. Jake spoke eloquently and passionately about the good things that can be done with a little help from data science.

DataKind has grown to be an international organisation, helping communities across the globe. You can read a lot more about DataKind in the blog article that Jake wrote for SAS Voices back in April. In his article Jake explains how teams of DataKind volunteers have helped in ways which include:
  • Designed new poverty measures for the World Bank using untapped data sources such as light levels visible from space and food prices scraped from dozens of websites to turn what had been a five-year process into a real-time evaluation that takes the guesswork out of tracking inflation rates and easily identifies isolated food crises. 
  • Culled refrigeration temperature patterns and shipping routes with Nexleaf to identify the best transport methods for keeping vaccines from spoiling during delivery throughout the developing world. 
  • Created an algorithm that uses satellite imagery to map the poorest villages in Uganda and Kenya, enabling GiveDirectly to more accurately transfer international donations to the most impoverished households trying to pursue their dreams.
There are many ways to get involved with DataKind's very worthwhile activities. Take a look at the list of upcoming events.

For those of us in the UK, the summer DataDive over the weekend of July 17-19 is a good way to put some of our data science knowledge and experience to good use. Will I see you there? If you can't make the DataDive, check-out the UK page on the DataKind web site and keep an eye on the Meetup forum for other events across the UK.