3 ways data is changing the world - for good

24 Nov 2017

  • Data

Consumer trust has wavered in the last 12 months. With new technologies, like the Internet of Things and voice, enabling businesses to collect an ever-increasing amount of data, consumers are growing more concerned about privacy.

In fact, the Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2017 by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner revealed earlier in the year that 69 percent of Australian are more concerned about their online privacy than they were five years ago.

The high profile data breaches that dominated 2017 have not helped consumer trust either. Bupa, Medicare, Yahoo and Deloitte were just a drop in the ocean of large organisations affected by 1,000+ data breaches this year.

"Data has been revolutionary in its social impact"

Data-driven businesses and organisations have realised the importance of educating their staff and being transparent with their consumers on not only their data collection and use practices, but also about disclosing data breaches.

While it has gained a bit of a bad rep this year within the business sector, it’s vital to note that data has been revolutionary in its social impact.

Working hand-in-hand with machine learning, data has been able to detect melanoma and help diagnose autism at a much earlier stage than ever before. It helps monitor and asses environmental changes and aids social causes every day.

1. Early detection and diagnosis

Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer. However, with early detection, 98 per cent of patients will recover.

With the help of structured and unstructured data, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping skin cancer specialists detect melanoma earlier.

Check out IBM’s recent case study from the AC&E Awards for their Outthink melanoma campaign.

Skin cancer isn’t the only thing the combined powers of AI and data can detect. Halim Abbas, from digital health platform Cognoa, is working on early diagnosis of autism using AI. In Australia recently for Advancing Analytics, Abbas shared how his company has been able to transform health and change lives.

Through an online screening process that users can do at home from a smartphone, disorders can be detected quickly and easily.

“Machine learning algorithms can ingest very large numbers of historical patient records, and use them to capture incredibly subtle patterns that might indicate the presence of cognitive disorders,” Abbas said to Which-50 recently.

Early diagnosis can greatly improve the outlook of children, according to Abbas, as in the first few years of life the brain is still rapidly developing.

2. Satellite imaging helping change the world

Planet, made up of a group of scientists and engineers, takes a snapshot of the Earth every day. Every. Day. 

The satellite imaging assists researchers and scientists to study global change in real-time. From measuring the impact of emissions and deforestation, helping monitor forests and enabling carbon management to assist in disaster reduction and response and improving food security, Planet gathers ‘untold’ amounts of data to help improve life on Earth.

3. Data Science for social good 

University of Chicago’s summer program, Data Science for Social Good Fellowship (DSSGF) trains aspiring data scientist through projects with social impact.

This year’s projects included tackling:

Unemployment – DSSGF is working towards understanding the risks around and predicting unemployment in Cascais, Portugal. This will inform decisions and policies and allow government to allocate the right resources ahead of time.

Illegal fishing – to combat the devastating effect of illegal overfishing, by identifying and stopping boats that are illegally fishing. DSSGF is working with a number of partners to create an open-source Risk Tool and Risk Score through huge data sets and state of the art statistic techniques. Combining and analysing multiple satellite data sources, could guide policy, improve enforcement and reduce illegal fishing.

Sustainable tourism – while tourism feeds the Tuscan economy in Italy, it also has great implications for the local community, city resources and iconic places. DSSGF aims to measure and understand tourism on a deeper level and identify patterns to support and prepare local authorities for the future impact of tourism.

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