Big data’s image has taken a thrashing over the past couple of years. A series of avoidable disasters has made Facebook public enemy number one and several high-profile hacks and breaches have combined to take a toll on trust in the big tech industry.
Somewhat lost amidst the sound and fury is the fact that private-sector businesses have been creating and deploying data science capabilities for many years and have used data insights to create thousands of products and services that are better, cheaper and better tailored to real customer needs. They have done so without being overly obtrusive or violating privacy norms.
Imagine if organizations in the non-profit, civic, and public sectors had access to the same kind of resources to apply to many of the world’s most pressing problems? They could use applied data to make their work go farther, faster, and ultimately help more people.
That’s the idea behind The Data Science for Social Impact Collaborative, a new $50-million investment over five years, from The Rockefeller Foundation and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to build the field of data science for social impact through a transformational model for collaborative philanthropy. Said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President, The Rockefeller Foundation:
“We know the power data science can have for social good because we’ve seen it in action. When mission-driven organizations have the right talent, tools, and knowledge, data science can generate real human impact: helping vulnerable families access public benefits; saving water and money during droughts, and saving time in resettling refugees – so they can find homes and jobs faster.”
Added Michael Froman, vice chairman and president, strategic growth at Mastercard:
We believe the digital economy needs to work for everyone. If we can close the gap by providing the civic and social sectors with the tools, talent, and investments they need to apply data science effectively, then we have a shot at solving some of the greatest challenges of our time. We see a world where the infinite promise of technological innovation can deliver on our goal of inclusive growth.