Data has become one of the most powerful tools in the world today. Never before have we had access to so many data-mining techniques, as well as the ability to understand and use data from such a wide variety of sources. While most data is mined for marketing and profit, that same data can be used for civic good, and that’s exactly what Friederike Schüür is passionate about.
Friederike is a data scientist at Fast Forward Labs, an applied machine learning research company. Fast Forward Labs looks at industry trends to predict which technologies will have the most impact in the next six months to two years. The company then works with diverse partners — large companies to small startups, and everything in between — to teach them how that tech can be used to better their organization, and better the world.
Friederike’s work with Fast Forward Labs keeps her busy, but she still finds time to volunteer for DataKind, the organization that inspired her work in data to begin with. While still in academia, Friederike worked with DataKind for the first time and found that data science could be both intellectually stimulating and socially impactful at the same time.
DataKind brings together leading data scientists with social change organizations to foster collaborations which lead to maximum social impact. DataKind’s volunteers work pro bono to meet organizations where they are and provide invaluable insight into the humanitarian issues that will further their vision and goals of social change.
Just a few examples of DataKind’s incredible work include using satellite image data to track deforestation, partnering with Vision Zero to reduce the number of traffic-related deaths in U.S. cities, and organizing a data dive (like a hackathon for data scientists) to foster and guide individual charitable giving.
Much of DataKind’s work relies on public data. Many people are surprised to learn that data which can be used to positively impact the world is publicly available for anyone to use. A perfect example of this is the data dive mentioned above — DataKind and their volunteers were able to raise awareness of individual giving by using the IRS data for nonprofit tax revenue, which is publicly available. DataKind used the IRS data to show how nonprofits spent their money, which then allowed individuals to make informed decisions and feel confident in where their money was going.
Using data for civic hacking is essential to successfully addressing social issues. As Friederike outlines, the first steps in using data science for good are:
– Finding questions that are worth asking
– Using data to outline clear answers
– Making sure people are listening and know what they should do based on your answer
These three relatively simple “rules for civic hacking through data science” can be applied in many areas to create true social change.
Friederike shares more of her data science insights, and how both Fast Forward Labs and DataKind are using data to positively impact the world. Don’t miss her full interview — watch now by gaining access to the full Civic Hacker Summit archive.
Making An Impact With Data Science and AI
In her Civic Hacker Summit interview, Friederike details how her work with Fast Forward Labs and DataKind has been able to provide solutions to social concerns and industry changes alike. Watch the full interview today to learn more about Friederike and using data science for good.