Brave New World: Predicting The Future For Potential, Not Profit.

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Since it launched in 2009 the US government’s venture,, has grown to almost half a million datasets ‒ a vast resource available to anyone who wants to use it. Its goal is to fuel innovation and scientific research in areas such as health, the environment, space exploration and education. Important, because as we all know open access to usable and relevant data leads to greater impact and capacity to inform policy, improve civic services, geospatially forecast disasters before they happen, to understand what makes us sick or keeps us healthy—and so much more. There are huge benefits for the private and public sector, but the implications go way beyond maximizing for profit and more about maximizing our human potential.

Two years ago we started discussing the concept of big data philanthropy, where businesses anonymously donate data to a global database for greater social good. Government has taken up the challenge and now businesses are looking at the powerful potential of datasets normally hidden behind corporate firewalls as a form of business risk mitigation.

“A handful of pioneers have been testing the waters of private sector data sharing. French telecommunications company France Telecom-Orange, for example, has made anonymized records of five million mobile phone users in Cote d’Ivoire available to the research community as part of the Data for Development Challenge.

Popular URL shortening service Bitly has launched Bitly Social Data APIs giving developers access to data collected from the billions of clicks that Bitly receives each month. And, international organization such as UNDP and the World Bank have made efforts at opening up their own internal data, allowing for applied research experiments and correlation with external data sources like social media or mobile phone data at a series of recent Data Dives.” —UN Global Pulse (Harnessing big data for development and humanitarian action)

Image: UN Global Pulse

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