Big Data CAN benefit the public good

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Lev Gonick, CEO OneCommunity

Lev Gonick, CEO OneCommunity

Before apps, the cloud, social media, search, and the web browser, in the beginning, there was the Internet. Not a physical thing, the Internet is very much like a language that allows people and things (like machines) to ‘talk’ to each. As a language, the Internet has been remarkably generative and enabled countless business and personal uses. Consumers and commerce uses yes, but not necessarily for public benefit.

This language has allowed us to generate and collect data. For example, the Internet aids in the mapping big complicated biological, physical, economic, or social systems with powerful analytical tools has generated vast amounts of data. Ever since the completion of the human genome project in 2003, the public at large and private interests in particular have come to understand the power of ‘big data’. Indeed, more than 90% of all the data collected in human history has been generated over the past two years (and not all of it is YouTube videos of cats playing piano).

However, there has been relatively little progress in leveraging these incredibly powerful analytical tools enabled by the Internet to address large-scale public challenges and opportunities. What are the social determinants of student success in school? How can we approach community health in an integrated and multi-dimensional fashion leveraging different data sources? Could community safety be improved through breakthrough methods used to create safer medicine and drug regimes? Can urban planning and development leverage tools used to map geological formations like oil and gas fields in our oceans?

The time has come to develop a replicable and sustainable approach to using big data technique to approach and begin to solve for the major social challenges that face communities around the country and beyond.

Supporting a Big Open Data Platform (or Hub) is one of the ways OneCommunity will advance its mission.  We will lead and partner to develop an open data solutions initiative that addresses the community’s priorities and –positively shift the focus to using data for public benefit.

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