What is Data Philanthropy?

The routine data that powers business can transform global efforts to address climate change.

The growing movement of data philanthropy calls on companies to make privacy-protected, aggregated data available for analysis to advance the public good—and demonstrates their leadership in catalyzing innovation.

9.5 Billion Terabytes of data … Un-Analyzed.

According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. But this rate is exponentially increasing. So much so, that 90% of the data in the world today was created within just the last two years. This is an incredible amount of information that could lead to revelations about how we live, work, purchase and use everything from food to mobile phones. But the information is not readily available for research. In fact, a study conducted by IDC discovered that only 0.5% of available data in the world today is actually being analyzed. The opportunities for discovery in this vast digital universe have not even begun to be explored.

Private sector companies hold the keys to the castle. A thoughtful data philanthropy initiative, coordinated by an academic or public institution would open the doors to informed discoveries that create more efficient and effective solutions for social and environmental issues.

Is Data Philanthropy Safe?

Absolutely. Secure processes are put in place to segregate a given data set and anonymize the data so that no personal or identifiable information is shared. Researchers would be looking at massive amounts of aggregated data to glean patterns and insights for large-scale model adoption. This isn’t about a single phone call or purchase, it’s about major trends and opportunities for data to advance beneficial practices such as crop rotation, emergency response and disease spread.

How to get Started.

There are a number of ways a company can get involved. Organizations like U.N. Global Pulse and initiatives such as Data 4 SDGs are two great avenues to start a conversation. Innovation challenges are mapping the way to collaboration and either organization can guide you to the right partners and methods for joining the data philanthropy movement. Contact information is available on both their websites.

Matt Stempeck, of the Harvard Business Review, has mapped out a few things for companies to consider as they get started, including considering which data would be easy to share and thinking who could benefit or be harmed from the information being collected.

Whether you’re interested in donating data, analytics and tools, or even technology to collect the data, participation in data philanthropy is vital to the future of our planet, ecology and culture. We have the intelligence and the information, we just need the collaboration to create impactful change in this world.

Read more about how data is being used to address climate change:

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