Harnessing Big data for Social Good

April 19, 2018 12:00 AM

Data is in abundance and can be created and retrieved from any point. It is unstoppable from producing bits to bytes and beyond. As per IBM report, more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day. Technological advancements over the last few decades have boosted data creation. Such extensive amounts of data require large amounts of storage hubs. It is also difficult to store, manage and analyze these within existing databases. This is the reason why there is so much light on Big Data and its applications.

Why Big data?

The term ‘Big data’ is not about data being massive - but its solutions to operate on those massive amounts of data for productive use. The generation of data is more - means the benefits from it even tends to more. All we have to do is collect it, embrace it, and make use of it. Big data encompass a variety of information such as social media, transactions, sensor data, mobile phones log information etc. Its analytical tools help to analyze the large sets of data computationally and aid to process trends, patterns, and associations among them. Not only this, Big data has the capability to work on the complex and intricate datasets that brings favorable results for many organizations.

NGOs status of Big data

Nonprofits could greatly benefit from the use of Big data. However, NPOs using bid data are rare. There are typical reasons for NGOs or NPOs for not actively using Big data:

  • The data available with Nonprofits are in disarray. Due to a significantly higher number of stakeholders involved and feedback loops present, the data is complex and dynamic.

  • Secondly, the infrastructure and implementation of various social programs are not smart at collecting and storing data.

  • Most of the NGOs are still using conventional paper works - which is difficult to store and manage.

  • Lastly, less information access as compared to business communities and technical industries.

How can Big data help NGOs/NPOs?

Nonprofit Organisations works for different sectors such as Agriculture, Health, Disability, Education etc., and an NGO itself is operated at different levels which include field-level research, financials, management etc. To run these entire organizations collaboratively and effectively - data-driven approach needs to be in place. As a matter of fact, the data which is available for Non-profit organizations lack specific structure. For such types of complex situational data, the advanced analytics and operations are helpful in finding solutions.

Harnessing big data for NGOs will certainly aggregate, analyze, and automate the operations at different levels and release the complexity to run smoothly. For Example, if an NGO is working on empowering girls by providing education to the remote areas then Big data could assist in taking effective and successful actions. This technology tracks each girl child's movement and progress. It collects and analyzes the girl's attendance data, progress information, needs distribution data on daily basis, and can also store the data for future analysis and predictions.This way, Big data technology has a capability to solve some of world's most critical issues.

Decision making and resource optimization are huge challenges for non-profits which can be addressed using Big data analytics. Eventually, it limits the wastage of resources and unorganized implementation. With the extension of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Big data can be leveraged for better solutions with its automation abilities. 

Final thoughts

Security and Privacy, quality of data, and storage space are few grey areas as far as Big data is concerned. Apart from this, it is one of the finest technology in this fourth industrial revolution that any organization look to.

Big data offers huge potential for Social Innovations. Already, a number of Non-profit organizations are adopting Big data for the best results and data-driven operations. Here is one such NGO called "My Choices Foundation" using Big data analytics for the program Operation Red alert to rescue women and girls from human trafficking.

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