It is high time we started thinking of Data Analytics and Society as two inseparable components of our ecosystem. In the 21st century technology and data analytics with tools like artificial Intelligence, machine learning & deep learning have great potential to impact society positively. Today we have the largest amount of data ever available to us. We also have tremendous capacity to capture, analyze and utilize data and create products & services that solve society issues.
Collecting strong data sets on a social, health or environmental issue allows academics and researchers to understand the severity and impact of any issue. Then Academics, businesses, NGO’s, and governments can mobilize their leadership & innovative skills to tackle problems identified using data.
Data Science & Analytics has many many buzzwords like “AI”, “Deep learning” and “Big data”. It is a growing field with a lot of potential but it is also important to ask questions like why need for machine learning? What do we use big data for and why? How can we benefit from the technology and help the rest of the world and society?
Data Analytics contributes greatly to society through volunteer work with a socially oriented data science program/ organization. Some socially oriented data science fellowships, typically in conjunction with nonprofits and local governments, are available. These platforms offer a closer insight into the myriad of problems that may be addressed through the application of data and analytic tools. There are few data-science organizations that are solely focused on social good and offer numerous opportunities for volunteering. This can be through mentoring or using your data science skills to help solve a social problem in one of their projects.
We can use our analytics skills and contribute through competition platforms. Platforms such as Kaggle hosts competitions intended to solve problems with social & real world impact. Resourceful data scientists and analysts can identify & solve social problems on their own, with the data available to them. For instance, a great resource for data is the GapMinder Foundation which provides statistics to understand global trends and issues.
Governments & Global Organizations
Data Analytics in the form of Big Data is also being used to help improve the world we live in. Urban planning with systems like utilities, energy, housing, transportation, and infrastructure is one such key. Many cities are using big data to convert their municipalities into smart cities and in solving issues related to parking, pollution, and energy consumption.
Big data is playing a key role in protecting the environment. Big data offers alternative solutions to deforestation so that we can lower our carbon footprint. Similarly, it also offers the opportunity to protect endangered species and mitigate poaching.
In Public Health, big data allows scientists with increased ability to predict patterns in diseases and mutations. They are now coming up with algorithms that can help predict infections based on data — hours before physical symptoms appear.
For organizations like UNICEF, big data is key to their success. They can deliver immunization, healthcare, and water to some of the world’s poorest populations by analyzing big data.
There are so many opportunities to use data analytics for society and make a meaningful impact. Data science & analytics work is getting visibility in organizations that are oriented towards serving the public good. Governments, SMEs, NGOs, and other Social bodies are beginning to recognize the importance of analytics, particularly its data driven insights, predictive capability, and evidence-based recommendations. In the 21st century data analytics and society can and should come together to realize unprecedented potential in tackling pressing issues in less privileged environments.