Dot Net Discusses: 'Believe the hype: Big data can have a big social impact'. Small, A., 2014.

Big Data and crowd sourcing benefits social or non profit organisations

Chris Whitehead, Solutions Architect at Dot Net gives his opinions on 'Believe the hype: Big data can have a big social impact'. This article was written by Annika Small the Chief Executive of Nominet Trust for The Guardian.
 
The article looks at the ways in which social organisations can use big data to increase their power.  According to Annika big data and the progress in this area tends to have centred around government and the private sector. She believes however that; "big data can fuel big social change." Chris acknowledges that social organisations can use big data to increase their influence; "Knowledge, or in its lowest form “data” equals power.  As the increase in publicly available data becomes more widespread it means that we (the public) can share in the power traditionally kept behind closed doors." Similarly he believes it has an impact on social change; "Whether we are knowingly consuming big data or not, it is having a huge effect towards how we live our day-to-day lives, the decisions we make and so in turn, influencing social change."
 
The use of data can play a valuable role in the charitable sector. Small states that "Crowdsourcing of open data also offers a new way for not-for-profits to gather intelligence." Chris states that open data can be positive, allowing for greater involvement from organisations which have not had the funds or resource to actively engage. He supplements this with the opinion that; "Techniques such as crowdsourcing encourage collaboration across a variety of sectors exposing a clearer, transparent picture of the world in which they operate.  Informed decisions, and to a certain degree, predictions (as the volume of data grows and historical patterns begin to emerge) can be made which in turn will have a dramatic and positive effect on some of society’s most vulnerable people."
 
However, Small feels that fully utilising big and open data may present technical and organisational challenges for social organisations. Small feels that many organisations may be lacking; "the required skills, awareness and investment". Chris   believes that Dot Net have the solution; "Propelling big data into the mainstream is the ability to combine it with a suitable delivery mechanism; this being cloud technology.  Dot Net have the expertise to unlock data from it’s traditional storage limitations via a number of cloud techniques and advise on the growing number of client applications. This enables effective analysis giving meaning to the consumer."
 
Successfully utilising data can be invaluable to non-profits, Small believes that it can be used to; "generate insights, to drive more effective action and to fuel social change."