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Data Philanthropy and the decade of ubiquitous Big Data

Menno van Doorn
November 01, 2012

Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of UN Global Pulse, is harnessing the power of big data for “agile global development”. Already working with Facebook, Twitter, and the five largest wireless carriers in Indonesia (among others), he is promulgating the concept of “data philanthropy” to bring the full power of the real-time feedback economy to humanity’s most pressing needs, on a global scale. I was on a trip with Orange Institute last week where I met with Robert Kirkpatrick. We published on his project in our Big Social report and now I was able to ask him some questions. He told me that based on twitter analysis they are now able to predict Indonesia’s inflation. But this is only the beginning, he said. The next decade will be the age of “Ubiquitous Big Data”. “We believe that big data is going to go ambient over the next decade.  And we would like to see a world where it is possible in real time to check the socio-economic status of populations in every part of the world.” Big Data Philanthropy All kinds of predictions can be done better and faster when we establish a Data Commons Private and Public sector and individuals contribute to this model so that in the end we all benefit. Kirkpatrick added: “What we’re looking for now is to get a few private sector partners with data interested in working with us to chart a way forward.” I asked him whether they use profiles to match the tweets and Facebook updates in order to make better predictions. Because when you know who sent the message – man or woman, age, hobbies, income, pets yes or no, et cetera –  you get more valuable insights.  Kirkpatrick said that privacy is king, but that he has asked the help of Jeff Jonas (See interviews with Jonas on our blog). The UN sees the risk of re-identification as a human rights issue and that big data is a public good, but only if used safely. A ubiquitous Big Data commons lies ahead of us and is based on privacy, philanthropy and diplomacy. Kirkpatrick: “We need data diplomacy.  Big data is only big data when it connects to some other data.”

About the author

Director and Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Menno is Director of the Sogeti Research Institute for the Analysis of New Technology (VINT). He mixes personal life experiences with the findings of the 19 years of research done at the VINT Research Institute. Menno has co-authored many books on the impact of new technology on business and society.


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