Companies around the world are gathering trillions of bytes of data at an exponentially growing rate. In fact, the average American company already has more data than the Library of Congress.
This phenomenon is called Big Data, and it has quickly become one of the hottest frontiers for innovation, competition, business intelligence and corporate profit. Included in Big Data are invaluable consumer and market insights, and a whole economic sector is appearing to harness, analyze, visualize and monetize this digital gold mine.
To the world of activism Big Data means two things. On the one hand the sophisticated analysis of Big Data presents serious new threats to civil rights. And on the other hand, Big Data could also provide powerful tools and insights to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, and to mitigate global emergencies.
On October 2011 I attended the first Strata Conference on Big Data in New York, whose second edition is taking place as I write these lines. There I met Robert Kirkpatrick, director of Global Pulse, an innovation lab created by the UN Secretary-General, “to research, develop, test and share tools and approaches for harnessing real-time data for more effective and efficient policy action.” Since then, Global Pulse has been high on Kumu’s radar, as an organization seriously diving into the waters of Big Data from the activism side -in the case to foster “development, protect the world’s most vulnerable populations, and strengthen resilience to global shocks.”
As the world of Big Data gathers again in New York, soon after the launch of Kumu, and in the wake of the Wired For Change conference (and on UN’s Day!) I thought it very timely to highlight Global Pulse’s White Paper “Big Data for Development: Opportunities & Challenges”, published May 2012. This is an excellent document to start gaining a better understanding of how Big Data may impact activism.
The full PDF document can be downloaded from this link, while the SlideShare presentation below summarizes its key points.
Also embedded below is a video feacturing the speech of Robert Kirkpatrick, director of Global Pulse, at Strata New York 2011.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned for more thoughts and resources on Big Data and activism to be posted on our blog.