How Powerful Is Our Data? [PSFK NYC 2012]

Robert Kirkpatrick of UN Global Pulse discusses how the simple data we produce everyday can be tracked to help predict global crises.

At the PSFK CONFERENCE NYC 2012 today, our diverse lineup of speakers are sharing valuable insights and ideas about technology, business and creativity.

Robert Kirkpatrick is the Director of the United Nation’s Global Pulse initiative and is an expert in mining social media, the open web and massive passive data to detect the early impacts of crises on vulnerable communities. His work has explored how to foster innovation in large organizations and ways that techno-social initiatives can enhance trust-building, information sharing, and decision making across boundaries. Robert is aware however, of the challenges of our connected modern world:

In a fast-moving, hyperconnected, and volatile world, public policy must be agile and continuously adaptive if it is to protect vulnerable populations from shocks, keep global development on track, and meet the changing needs of citizens.

At today’s conference, Robert spoke about the power of big data and how it can be tapped to predict and help in crisis situations.

He explained how the UN could no longer understand the complex interconnections of the wired world where new risks move and arise quicker than the traditional tools used to track the impact of crises on populations–survey and census. By applying new tools and sentiment analysis to open-source digital signals on social networks, we can predict when people will get laid off, when populations are at risk of disease, or when societies are in danger of widespread hunger.

Using this data, global development & governance can become agile & operate in iterations: Using real-time feedback from people in need to adjust actions & programs accordingly. Some of the best data to do this is behind corporate firewalls, data on consumption and transactions. With Data Philanthropy, companies can help public sector sustain living standard of their customers.

For more insights from Robert, check out PSFK’s Need to Know Magazine

Global Pulse / @rgkirkpatrick

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