The growing importance of real-time data is crucial for the effectiveness of numerous organizations. While we embarked on our Future Of Real-Time report with the goal to support the United Nations’ Global Pulse, the ramifications of trends in this area can benefit numerous entities, especially small businesses, entrepreneurs, and technologists. Last week we held a PSFK SALON at Soho House NY to discuss the future of real-time.
Our panel consisted of Robert Kirkpatrick (of Global Pulse), Adam Leibsohn (of Voyurl), Matt Rosenberg (of Fast Society), Yasser Ansari (of Networked Organisms), and Andrew Hoppin (of Civic Commons). Piers Fawkes and Scott Lachut lead a presentation of our Real-Time Report, which covered real-time data trends that addressed new mapping methods, how people can benefit from the excessive data locked in government entities, and how the democratization of data and spread of mobile technology opens doors to gauge social sentiment and harness insight and technological solutions. To view the full report and presentation, click here.
The panelists and audience’s questions generated insights in a handful of areas:
Real-Time Data: No Big Deal
Robert Kirkpatrick stressed the role of real-time data in bolstering response to the global crises in food, finance, and fuel. Collecting this type of information is easy or at least should be. When working with emerging nations, the data collecting platform should aim to be accessible and easy to use. Organizations must take a close look at existing behaviors and develop nuanced platforms that cater to the literacy levels of people that will provide data.
Radical Openness: Data and Government
Robert Kirkpatrick and Andrew Hoppin developed this important point. Creating value and seeing opportunities within data sets is not something the government is responsible for, or even capable of doing. Given the tight budget constraints and plenitude of innovation outside government, it makes sense that government moves to open up some of their databases to the public, making real-time data ‘mashable’ without compromising national security. Citizens will come up with unprecedented solutions that eliminate inefficiencies and there’s a chance that other governments can make use of that data to better their own infrastructure. While this is not the culture of government, policy changes can happen if there is demand for it from the voting public.
Rigorous Statistical Validity vs. Real-Time Data
Entities such as the United Nations cannot operate on ‘dead data’. Since they are often responding to crises, the ‘nowness’ factor is paramount; this is why real-time data is perhaps more important to their daily operations than statistically valid data that takes months and years to confirm. Even more crucial is that data provides early signals before a crisis happens. Technological solutions here focus on empowering people on the ground to report their experience as well as enhancing internal staff’s connectivity with those in need.
Information Sensitivity: Rising Importance of Privacy and Potential for Public Backlash
Large entities think about how openness and participation in social media can lead to backlashes from the public. Matt Rosenberg predicted a “big push in privacy”, claiming everyone has to figure out where the line is between private data and what can be shared. Building on this, Adam Leibsohn asserts that we don’t think of our social interactions and natural reactions as data. Adam claims that platforms don’t necessarily have to live up to lofty promises of being transparent, but that they need to be honest about the data they want from you, and this leads people to become more willing to share. Adam’s perspective (and website) is informed by the fact that most platforms have taken advantage of users’ ignorance, aligning themselves with advertisers and back-end companies.
The Role of Reputation and Social Status
Features such as badging and virtual rewards and/or voting systems are sometimes core to the sustainability of a platform, especially socially charged platforms. More generally, the importance of assigning values to opinions and perspectives is important for creating trustworthy virtual spaces and also enabling bottom-to-top influence. Larger entities receiving information, it is paramount to verify the credibility of the source, whether independent or otherwise.
Thanks to all those who attended and our distinguished panelists.