big data | July 29, 2013

Humanitarian Hackathons: Big Data Speaker Jake Porway In The Economist

By now, you've probably either hired someone for a big data-specific project at your organization, or, you're figuring out how big data can work for you. Jake Porway, a big data speaker, wants you to think outside the box about what data mining can bring to the table. With DataKind, he brings data experts together to use their talents for philanthropic purposes. One of their most recent "data dives" was featured in The Economist this week.

Most of the participants at Porway's data dives have highly specialized skills but are looking to do more with their abilities than designing apps or helping ad companies amass more clicks. While these things are useful, Porway believes that big data mining can also help solve social issues. At an event in London this week, 80 statisticians, computer scientists, and data-visualization experts helped charities see some of their most pressing concerns in a new light. These "data geeks," as Porway calls them, uncovered new information on which countries cared for their elderly the best, created infographics showing which disorders are the most commonly misdiagnosed, and presented new correlations that can help to better predict food price increases in poor countries. None of the work was definitive, however. It's important to note that these events are often starting points that get people thinking about bigger issues.

As the founder of DataKind, Porway connects data scientists with not-for-profits to help solve social problems. He believes that big data is about so much more than number-crunching. "Data isn't just a spreadsheet or a database: It's us," Porway writes in a recent interview. "It's the people we care about. It's our world." In his talks, the data scientist teaches us the power of big data and how we can harness it to make the world a better place. To hire a keynote speaker like Jake Porway for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency.