How to Use Data for Good to Impact Society

Published: 29 June 2018 ID: G00355735

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Data can be used for the good of society, but private- and public-sector firms, nonprofits and NGOs still lack analytics resources and expertise. Data and analytics leaders must cross traditional boundaries to use data for good, to better compete for limited talent, and to foster an ethical culture.


Key Challenges

  • Public sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofits often have an implicit mission to improve society. But data collection, use and sharing in support of data and analytics have not been leveraged as part of this mission due to limited funds and expertise.

  • Data and analytics skills are limited in the market, with organizations battling for rare talent and looking for ways to differentiate themselves as ideal employers.

  • Data protection requirements are often misunderstood, which deters private-sector companies from sharing data and discourages public-sector agencies from sharing data with other agencies.

  • Private-sector companies want to participate in data-for-good initiatives but must balance profits with authentic social purpose and be genuine, or risk backlash.


As data and analytics leaders build their programs, they should:

  • Participate in community events to collaborate on data-for-good projects; pursue solutions from businesses that design technology and data for social purpose.

  • Leverage free resources (people, software, technology, data) from data and analytic vendors that support data for good by submitting project ideas and using online matching of volunteers.

  • Allow data and analytics experts to spend a certain number of days per year on philanthropic initiatives. Use this HR benefit as a differentiator in recruiting and skills enhancement.

  • Evaluate commercial internal and external data to assess its usefulness for social purpose, while also adhering to privacy obligations.

Strategic Planning Assumptions

Through 2020, employers with data-for-good programs will have 20% higher retention rates for data and analytic experts than those who do not.

By 2020, data for good will become a standard program from more than half of data and analytic vendors.


In the latest Gartner annual chief data officer (CDO) survey, the number of CDOs saying ethics is part of their responsibilities has increased by 10 percentage points from 2016 to 2017. 1 If you are a CDO or responsible for setting forth data strategies for your organization, you are in a unique position to restore some of the decline in trust in businesses by proactively pursuing use cases of "data for good." CDOs in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can also use increased transparency of funding and impact to improve trust. 2

NGOs, nonprofits and public-sector organizations are trying to be more data driven in their missions to improve society, but they are challenged with a lack of skills and expertise to leverage data. Meanwhile, private-sector organizations collect data that can be used for the good of society and possess more data and analytics expertise. For example, only 39% of government organizations agree that their technical staff (within IT, the BI competency center or analytics center of excellence) have the competencies and expertise to support the desired analytics and BI initiatives, compared to 56% in other industries. With regards to business analysts, only 22% of government organizations agree that they have the necessary skills, compared to 36% in other industries. 3

By crossing traditional organizational boundaries, these stakeholders are uniting in their efforts to leverage data for the greater good and to provide more meaningful work to the most sought-after employees. Social media mentions of data for good have increased 68% in the last year. 4 In the wake of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, there have been calls for data and analytics leaders, including the CDO, to become "chief conscience officers" — tasked with improving the social purpose of data use, for good, not bad, and providing the appropriate ethical and moral compass for data collection and use.

Gartner defines data for good as follows:

Data for good is a movement in which people and organizations transcend organizational boundaries to use data to improve society.

Figure 1 illustrates the reach of the data-for-good movement. It encompasses individuals volunteering their time to support NGOs in their use of data and analytics; software vendors providing software and technology to the NGO or nonprofit; and private-sector organizations providing data and people to address a unique problem.

Figure 1. Organizations Participating in Data for Good Come From Multiple Sectors and Cross Multiple Organizational Boundaries
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (June 2018)

Data is at the heart of this movement. Some of this data may be public data, or collected and generated by public-sector agencies and then made available to the public as part of an open-data initiative. In addition, private-sector organizations are also making such data open and available to researchers, nonprofits and NGOs. Examples include:

  • Mastercard anonymizing credit card data to be analyzed in smart city initiatives 5

  • Google making search data available to hospitals to predict infection disease outbreaks such as flu and dengue fever 6

  • Insurance companies providing anonymized healthcare data to improve patient outcomes and prevention strategies

  • Yelp providing ratings data to cities to prioritize food safety inspectors 7

Data-for-good use cases cut across all types of societal issues — environmental, addressing homelessness, the opioid epidemic, removing discrimination in criminal justice, human trafficking, poverty, wildlife, eliminating malaria, and equitable economic development.

The rise in data-for-good initiatives can be considered within the larger context of social investing and calls for companies to focus on social purpose. Across multiple geographic regions, social investing has increased dramatically in recent years:

  • In the U.S., impact investing increased 33% from 2014 to 2016, according to U.S. SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. 8

  • In Australia, impact investing has grown four fold from 2014 to 2017. 9

  • In Japan, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments have increased 25% in two years. 10

Lastly, in advance of the 2018 World Economic Forum, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock Investors, issued a call to other CEOs to address their social responsibility and purpose as part of the overall business strategy.


Participate in Community Events to Collaborate on Data-for-Good Projects

The number of organizations facilitating the use of data for good has grown in the last 15 years. It provides a way for individuals and organizations to network and share best practices. If your organization has a social mission but is without the data and analytics expertise, then use the resources from firms that specialize in data and analytics with an emphasis on social use cases.

Table 1 includes a representative list of organizations whose business models incorporate the use of data for good, while Table 2 is a representative list of universities and communities that facilitate events and networking. Organizations should leverage these resources by participating in them and co-sponsoring events.

Table 1.   Representative Organizations With a Purpose Related to Data for Good


Geographic Focus


Bayes Impact

San Francisco, U.S., and Paris, France.

Founded in 2014, with a focus on health, unemployment and justice.

Big Data Social Justice Foundation


Launched in 2017 to raise awareness of data and analytics in social justice, disease, famine, social inequality, and criminal justice disparities.

Data for Good


Founded in 2014 by Joy Robson and Victor Anjos, this nonprofit organization was inspired by DataKind. It is composed of a team of volunteers that host data dives and networking events across seven cities in Canada. Data for Good now has 7,000 volunteers, with Toronto being the largest contributor. Recent projects include using data to improve foodbank donations, prevent genocide, and for cancer research funding.


International, with chapters in New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, (all U.S.), Bangalore (India), the United Kingdom, and Singapore

Founded in 2011 by Jake Porway, DataKind has developed a network of chapters across the world. Each volunteer-led chapter spearheads data-for-good initiatives within their own communities by organizing events and/or connecting local data science volunteers with data-for-good initiatives. DataKind estimates that it has 18,000 volunteers globally.

Data Orchard


Founded in 2013, Data Orchard uses data to analyze neighborhood and community data while also hosting local meetups.

Digital Impact


Founded in 2012 as part of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS). In 2017 and 2018, Digital Impact hosted a number of events globally, including in Brisbane (Australia), Toronto, (Canada), Beijing (China), New York City (U.S.), and Mumbai (India). Topics included racial profiling in criminal justice, supporting individuals with disabilities, trust in digital societies, and reach in rural areas.

Digital Reasoning


Founded in 2000 with a vision of creating technology for the good of humanity.



Founded in 2015 as an outcome of the Harvard Innovations Lab, this is currently a five-person company specializing in data science and analytics for social purpose. A recent project included the use of Yelp ratings data to predict food safety inspections in restaurants in Boston, U.S., resulting in a 25% improvement in inspections. DrivenData also has analyzed and benchmarked per student spending, and how to foster trust in Africa going from cash-only to mobile money transactions. The company hosts online data science contests and provides direct consulting.

Open Data Institute (ODI)

England, International

Founded in 2012 in London, England, by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (founder of the web) and artificial intelligence (AI) expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt. The ODI works with commercial and noncommercial organizations on the use of open data, considering ethics, privacy and prevention of data for harm.

Pulse Labs (United Nations Global Pulse)

New York, Jakarta, Indonesia, Kampala, Uganda.

Pulse Labs works with United Nations agencies, academia, and private-sector organizations to identify problems and policies that can be addressed using data, particularly nonrelational data. It hosts a fellowship program for doctoral students. Recent projects include analyzing social media to understand perceptions on migrants and refugees in Europe, concerns on climate change, and water utility data to measure socioeconomic indicators in Uganda.

Resource Watch


Launched in 2018 as a separate initiative from the World Resources Institute (WRI), Resource Watch has five core members. Its website provides a collection of datasets and visualizations focusing on climate and planet issues, including coral bleaching, CO2 emissions by food consumption, and air quality. Public citizens can also create their own dashboards.

The Minerva Collective

Sydney, Australia

Founded in 2016 with funding from Data Republic, the Minerva Collective conducts projects and hosts meetups. Recent projects include data on battered women, societal well-being, and youth mental health.

Source: Gartner (June 2018)

Table 2 provides a representative listing of universities and communities that have repeatedly sponsored data-for-good events.

Table 2.   Representative Universities and Communities With Data-for-Good Events

University or Community




Data for Good Exchange

Annual event initiated in 2014 in New York City, U.S. Follow the hashtag #d4gx.


Data Science for Good

Kaggle was founded in 2010, hosting public datasets for online learning and for use in data science competitions. In 2017, Kaggle introduced a specific "data science for good" program, although many of the earlier competitions may have had a social purpose.


Based in Canada, with a focus on impact investing and social innovation.


Based in the U.K., Nesta primarily focuses on innovation but offers data-for-good grants.

University of Chicago

Data Science for Social Good

Hosts an annual conference with summer fellowships in the U.S. and Europe, with ongoing projects. Follow the hashtag #DSSG.

University of Utah

Sorenson Impact

The Sorenson Impact center and the David Eccles School of Business within the University of Utah focus on impact investing and have a team of data scientists that focus on use of data in education and criminal justice. The university provides fellowships for students to combine data with social purpose.

University of Washington

Data Science for Social Good

Offers annual fellowships first initiated in 2015 and inspired by the University of Chicago program.

Viz for Social Good

Viz for Social Good

Online data visualization community of 1,000 volunteers. Follow the hashtag #VizforSocialGood.

Source: Gartner (June 2018)

The United Nations has listed 17 goals related to sustainable development , and a number of data-for-good initiatives align to one or more of the goals.

Case Studies

DataKind and Crisis Text Line

DataKind initiatives include:

  • DataDives — Short-term (48 hours or less), marathon-style events that join organizations with volunteer data scientists, developers and designers to address specific initiatives.

  • DataCorps — Joins pro bono data scientists with social change organizations on long-term projects that use data science to transform their work and their sector.

  • Community events — Sponsored events including social mixers, educational workshops and project accelerators, where data and social sector experts can meet, socialize and discuss potential projects and data needs.

DataKind's work is exemplified by its partnership with Crisis Text Line (CTL), a text-messaging-based crisis counseling hotline in the U.S. CTL, launched in 2013, is a free, 24/7 text line available nationwide that connects texters in crisis to trained specialists. CTL receives over 90,000 incoming messages per day, with an average exchange lasting 45 minutes.

CTL worked with DataKind to help Crisis Counselors more effectively serve texters in crisis. The objective of the engagement was to help CTL route texters more quickly to the support they required. Ultimately, the research is intended to lead to smarter research, policy changes and more effective community efforts to support texters proactively, before they are in crisis.

DataKind volunteers partnered with CTL via a DataDive, supported by DataKind's corporate partner Teradata, to sift through one-quarter of a million messages to determine factors involved in a good text exchange. The partnership resulted in improved techniques for gathering more complete survey data that could then be used for analysis. As a result of these efforts, the survey completion rate improved from 20% to 75%.

As more robust data was collected, a DataKind DataCorps project, in partnership with Pivotal for Good, was launched to more quickly route teens based on their needs. 11 , 12 CTL used the routing algorithm to build products designed for different types of texters, and ultimately reduced overall texter wait times.

CTL has now exchanged over 72 million messages with texters in crisis and has had over 14,000 active rescues.

Viz for Social Good

Chloe Tseng is a senior data analyst at Twitter and began the volunteer group Viz for Social Good in 2017. Viz for Social Good is an online data visualization community that uses a number of different visualization tools such as Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, and D3 to visualize data that relates to social issues such as poverty, global warming and homelessness.

Ms Tseng works with nonprofits to prepare the data and then elicits support from the community using the hash tag #VizforSocialGood on Twitter. Examples of the group's work include the following:

  • Visualizations were created to highlight the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, the degree to which citizens are aware of them, and how different countries and genders prioritize them differently — e.g., Mexico prioritizes good health and well-being higher than education.

  • The Central Asia Institute (CAI) works to provide education in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan, with an emphasis on improving access to education for girls. Many of the schools are temporary tents. The CAI provided data to Viz for Social Good in an effort to raise awareness and increase funding for the institute.

Viz for Social Good has more than 1,000 volunteers. As of 2018, Viz for Social Good has local chapters in 14 cities globally, including Paris, Berlin and Tokyo.

Kaggle, NOAA and Save the Whales

Kaggle has long hosted data science learning projects and competitions, but in 2017 it launched a particular category of Data Science for Good. In 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) submitted a dataset to Kaggle for a competition to identify and save a particular species of whale: the right whale. 13 , 14 is the data science and AI division of CodiLime, an IT consulting and software engineering firm based in Poland. Using a deep neural network, was able to accurately identify the whales from aerial photographs — right whales have a unique identifying characteristic of large patches of rough skin on their heads — and also whether they were free or tangled in nets. Showing how organizations are crossing boundaries with these initiatives, graphics processing unit (GPU) maker Nvidia then provided GPUs (often used in gaming applications) to process the models.

Leverage Free Resources (People, Software, Technology, Data) From Vendors and Organizations That Support Data for Good

A number of data and analytic vendors have formal programs to provide software and expertise that supports data-for-good initiatives, with more planning to launch initiatives throughout 2018. Nonprofits, NGOs and public sector agencies should actively leverage these resources as a way of becoming more data driven in their efforts to improve society. Table 3 describes efforts from data and analytics vendors with more established programs.

Table 3.   Representative Data and Analytics Vendors Supporting Data for Good





Alteryx for Good

Alteryx for Good was launched in 2016. The vendor provides select nonprofits with free access to software. The Alteryx for Good Co-Lab is an online matching program where experts can volunteer for initiatives and nonprofits can request expertise. Also, Alteryx allows employees to spend 20 hours per year on charitable initiatives that leverage data.


Qlik Change Our World

Qlik's Change Our World program started in 2010. The vendor provides software, implementation support and training. Qlik was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the top 10 innovative companies for social good in 2017.


1-1-1 Model is the foundation launched by Salesforce. The 1-1-1 Model is based on Salesforce donating one percent of time, equity and product back to the community. The software license donation program began in 2008. This program is more comprehensive than pure data for good, but a number of projects therein are focused on data for good. For example, Project 8 focuses on data related to sustainable development, while (RED) is using Salesforce Einstein Analytics to fight AIDS in Africa. Salesforce was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the top 10 innovative companies for social good in 2018.



SAS formally began a social innovation program in 2017 with the launch of GatherIQ, a mobile app that uses crowdsourcing to support the work of nonprofits. GatherIQ combines data visualizations and video stories. Initial nonprofit partners include the UN's International Organization for Migration, Sepsis Alliance and the World Wildlife Fund. As of 1Q18, GatherIQ had over 22K downloads from 72 countries.

SAS's Social Innovation program also supports nonprofits through emerging technologies such as computer vision. In 2017, SAS began a partnership with WildTrack, a conservation organization, to develop an AI solution to track endangered animals by using images of their footprints.


Tableau Foundation

Tableau Foundation was formed in 2014, but even prior to this, Tableau Public was used as a free resource by NGOs, nonprofits, data journalists, and individuals to analyze data related to data for good. With Tableau Foundation, the vendor will choose to donate software and money to particular causes. Tableau Corps is an online resource that matches Tableau experts (both employees and customers) to causes.


Teradata Cares

Teradata Cares and its Doing Good With Data program began in 2012. Initial efforts focused on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act), a law intended to provide greater visibility into federal spending for better social services such as child immunizations. Since then, Teradata has sponsored multiple events with DataKind. Employees can spend four days per year on volunteering.

Source: Gartner (June 2018)

While the focus of this note is on data for good, a number of vendors have a slightly different emphasis but still remain aligned to the good of society. For example, Microsoft's "A Cloud for Global Good" initiative is a set of policies, case studies and recommendations for how technology should evolve in an inclusive way. The same vendor's AI for Earth (launched in 2017) provides cloud and AI technologies for organizations trying to address climate change, with Microsoft pledging $50 million in grants over the next five years. 15 In addition, many vendors provide free or substantially discounted software for educational purposes.

Organizations should consider the maturity of vendors' programs and understand the degree of commitment and resources any given vendor will provide. Be wary of efforts that are mainly marketing messages, without clarity on resources provided. None of the vendors publish the thresholds or qualification criteria (such as funding, number of employees) for these programs. Instead, an organization applies and is approved (or not) based on a number of factors, including whether the project or NGO aligns to the vendor's own philanthropic interests.

Also, while Table 1 lists the more established programs, some vendors have provided support for initiatives as part of their corporate philanthropy or in an ad hoc way. For example, database vendor Exasol is partnering with Path (an NGO), the Gates Foundation, the government of Zambia, Alteryx, Tableau and other technology vendors to fight malaria. 16 , 17

Case Studies

C40 Cities and Qlik

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) began life in 2005 as the C20, when the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, forged an agreement with representatives from 18 megacities on cooperatively reducing climate pollution. C40's first major data-driven publication was "Climate Action in Megacities," published in 2011 under then C40 Chair and Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. The publication created a catalog of city actions across key sectors and mayoral powers to better understand both future opportunities for action and existing city efforts. C40 has since grown to over 90 members.

To make best use of its data, C40 investigated grant options from various vendors. It was awarded software and expertise from Qlik as part of Qlik's Change Our World program. According to Eric Ast, senior manager of data and analytics at C40, a major part of the work is built on C40 work with global partners and cities to establish common definitions for greenhouse gases and climate hazards. This allows for benchmarking and comparisons across multiple cities. These protocols ensure consistent measurement so that issues such as accounting for emissions from airports serving a city (but outside the physical city limits) can be clearly handled.

In this way, it's clear that — like any data and analytics efforts in a commercial organization — data quality, metadata and arriving at common business definitions can consume a large part of the effort. This may be particularly true for NGOs and nonprofits when the data is nontransactional. Participating cities contribute and report their data to C40, which allows for measurement of goals and benchmarking for peer comparison, as shown in Figure 2.

At Qlik's annual user conference in 2018, the City of Boston — a C40 Steering Committee member — provided data for a hackathon in which participants created applications that explored emissions, energy and water consumption down to the individual buildings within the city. An application is in development to be implemented for the City of Boston and made available to other cities within the C40.

Figure 2. C40 Helps Mayors Benchmark Climate Goals
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: C40 Cities

NetHope and SAS

NetHope is a consortium and relief organization that provides technology and telecommunication supplies, coordinating relief efforts among 56 other NGOs and nonprofits, as well as 60 private-sector tech companies.

In October 2017, Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean and destroyed power and telecommunications in Puerto Rico. NetHope had information on cell towers that needed repairing on the island. Using SAS Visual Analytics, NetHope was able to prioritize restoration based on population density and accessibility of the towers, as shown in Figure 3. NetHope members and tech partners were instrumental in installing Wi-Fi at 90 locations in Puerto Rico, providing connectivity to response agencies and affected communities.

In addition, with support from Facebook, Internews and ActionSprout, NetHope launched the "Information as Aid — Puerto Rico" Facebook page to provide affected communities on the island with critical information and access to resources.

Figure 3. NetHope Used Data and Analytics to Prioritize Cell Tower Restoration in Puerto Rico
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: SAS

Community Technology Alliance (CTA), Interworks and Tableau

CTA was founded in 1991 to develop data-driven solutions to fight poverty and homelessness in Santa Clara County, California. Since then, it has evolved to help other cities across the U.S.

Nationally, homelessness is reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development based on annual counts of people in shelters or estimated on the streets taken at a single point in time. Reports are also based on ongoing counts of people receiving support through a regional continuum of care network. This data, however, is not standardized across the sector, which makes it difficult to coordinate support across the multitude of organizations serving the homeless. CTA helps coordinate data collection and cleansing, while its dashboard creation also provides solutions for citizens at risk of homelessness.

In 2015, with support from the Tableau Foundation and consulting partner Interworks, CTA launched a data fellows program to develop data leads within each Center of Care on using visual analytics to empower their work and tell their story. Figure 4 is an example of a CTA dashboard that shows how the demographics and needs to serve homeless people change over time.

Figure 4. CTA Uses Data to Understand and Track the Needs of the Homeless
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: CTA

Allow Data and Analytics Experts to Spend Time on Philanthropic Initiatives, and Use This Benefit as a Differentiator in Recruiting and Skills Enhancement

The limited availability of skills in data and analytics remains a top concern for CIOs and CDOs (see "2017 CIO Agenda: Global Perspectives on Seizing the Digital Ecosystem Opportunity" and "Survey Analysis: Third Gartner CDO Survey — How Chief Data Officers Are Driving Business Impact" ).

Job postings analyzed with TalentNeuron from CEB (now Gartner) show over 236,000 data and analytics job openings in the U.S. alone, a 43% growth rate year over year, with more than half those jobs taking longer than six months to fill. 18 McKinsey estimates that, by 2024, there will be 250,000 unfilled data science job openings in the U.S. 19 In 2015, a report from the European Commission estimated that 77% of jobs for data and analytics professionals were unfilled and projected a 160% increase in demand. 20

Certain countries are proactively addressing this challenge. For example, Singapore began a Smart Nation initiative to address such talent gaps by focusing on education as early as elementary school. The Data Lab MSc (a consortium of the Data Lab and several universities in Scotland) has increased funding for data and analytics students by 400% for the 2018/2019 academic year to address the demand for such skills. 21 With data and analytics jobs also commanding higher salaries, organizations must be more creative in retaining the most desirable workers.

At the same time, new college graduates increasingly evaluate potential employers in the light of organizations' social responsibilities. 22 For example, research from Gartner and the University of Maryland identified one of the top reasons female students study data and analytics is to have an impact on their company and the world (see "Diversity and Inclusion in Data and Analytics Fuels Innovation on the Path to Digital Transformation" ). At the 2018 Data and Analytics Summits in Sydney, Australia and in the U.S., attendees were asked to brainstorm ways to unleash creativity in their teams. Many wrote allowing time for work on social or philanthropic initiatives. A Nielsen study of 30,000 consumers found that 67% of those surveyed prefer to work for a socially responsible company. 23

Organizations may have existing philanthropic programs and employee benefit programs within which data for good would be a natural fit to attract and retain data and analytic workers. They may include matching employee hours with a corresponding monetary donation, as well as allocating a certain number of hours or days per year for such charitable work. As both CEOs and CIOs have identified a need to change the culture to achieve digital goals, adding support for data for good can be one strong signal of cultural change. Fortune's 2018 listing of best workplaces for giving back includes a number of companies that allow employees paid time off for volunteering, with 46 of the 50 companies providing this benefit. 24

Tata Consultancy Services' Purpose4Life program encourages employees to volunteer at least 10 hours per year, work on initiatives that are directly impacting the community, and allows experts to take a sabbatical for such endeavors. Dinanath Kholkar, vice president and global head of analytics and insights, says these initiatives are core to the Tata Group culture of giving back to the community, that they create a stronger bond in the teams and better employee retention. Consulting company Slalom is another service provider in data and analytics that has a Partners for Good program that matches consultants with local nonprofits in a three-month, pro bono engagement.

While formally listing time to spend on data-for-good projects can be a recruiting and retention incentive, organizations should also consider how their culture supports such efforts in a spontaneous way. For example, when employees of LatentView were stuck in their offices during the severe floods in Chennai, India in 2015, they saw opportunities for how social media analytics could support rescues, matching of services and potential subsequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases. 25

Time to work on data-for-good projects, however, will only provide a competitive benefit if all other factors that impact retention and engagement — such as fair pay and opportunity for advancement — are addressed (see "Quality Employee Engagement Insights 2017" ).

Case Study

Nationwide Insurance and Learning Circle

Learning Circle is a product that started as a project within Nationwide Insurance in 2007 when the then CEO of Nationwide was concerned with low high-school graduation rates in his home town of Columbus, Ohio, U.S. The root causes of these low rates could be traced to general problems of any urban center, but also to challenges starting in the elementary school stages.

Nationwide allowed a team of data and analytics experts to donate their time to work with local schools and educators to provide data to measure proficiencies, and to provide an early warning to struggling students. The impact of these initiatives was so positive that this team was eventually spun off as its own nonprofit and now operates under Future Ready Columbus. Future Ready Columbus is an advocacy organization that represents a private and public partnership to improve learning and education in Columbus, Ohio. Its goal is to promote and coordinate early learning opportunities, increase the percentage of children ready for kindergarten, help families navigate resources and help transition young adults into the workforce. Using Learning Circle, reading and math proficiencies have shown material improvements. The product is also now used in several North Carolina school districts.

As with any analytics and BI initiative, data alone cannot be credited with improving performance. However, it's an important enabler to identifying attendance issues, intervening early when grades and test scores are declining, and tracking progress toward a common goal. The application is also used beyond educators by other nonprofit organizations that serve children and teens, such as the United Way and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 26

Evaluate Commercial Internal and External Data to Assess Its Usefulness for Social Purpose, While Also Adhering to Privacy Obligations

Private-sector companies are uniquely situated to leverage data for a social purpose, including internal data and external data. Even within revenue-driven data collection, commercial entities that have acquired flexible data rights — for example, through a data sharing agreement — may share data with third parties that may then use it for good. These organizations should be transparent in their privacy policies about why they are collecting data and how they may use that data in the future, including using data for good.

As an example, when collecting consumer data to provide a specific service, goods, or even data product, companies generally must disclose the categories of organizations with which they may share any individual-level data. This requirement can be used to leverage data sharing for a social purpose by including categories of not-for-profit organizations or NGOs with which they may share data for a social good.

Commercial entities thinking about data sharing should start by creating a digital ethics strategy (see " Digital Ethics, or How to Not Mess Up With Technology, 2017 .") For example, under that strategy, the organization may decide to share only aggregated or de-identified consumer data for social purposes. The organization may still disclose to consumers that their information may be used for social purposes, but not in ways that would identify the individual consumer.

Commercial organizations can also leverage the data-sharing agreements internally or with external entities. In sharing data with other commercial or noncommercial entities, they can agree on how to use the data for social purposes, and even on how to share the data with public entities or NGOs for further uses of the data in support of social good. 27 Contracting parties dictate the scope of use and sharing. Together, they can enhance the data ecosystem so that others can access data for social good or for other social purpose initiatives.

For example, The GovLab uses the term "data collaborative" as it establishes agreements to share data to analyze gender and urban mobility in Chile. The shared data combines government data such as transport, crime and population data with anonymized call records from Telefónica in Chile 28 and digital imagery from DigitalGlobe.

Privacy and ethical strategies should support data sharing for good. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about how privacy rules and regulations are actually applied to data use and sharing (see "Why Privacy Is an Opportunity to Drive Data Value." ) When there is confusion, people often feel that it is simply "safer" not to share data, even with other agencies serving the public. But there have been tragic consequences of social harm when data is not shared, such as in child abuse cases, mass shootings and terrorist attacks.

Privacy principles, including those laid out in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), support data sharing and enable entities to share data for commercial purposes, including for social good purposes. Data and analytics leaders should consult their legal counsel to better understand the relationship between data collection and use, and data sharing for good (see "Top Ten Must Understand Legal Concepts for Data and Analytics Leaders to Drive Business Value" ).

Case Studies

Digital Reasoning and Thorn

Digital Reasoning is a software company founded in 2000, based in Franklin, Tennessee, U.S. Its vision is to create software for the good of humanity. Digital Reasoning had been designing software to analyze potential financial fraud and, within national security, analyzing semistructured data in emails, phone calls and social media posts. Thorn is a nonprofit focused on reducing human trafficking.

In 2012, Thorn and Digital Reasoning partnered to build an application, Spotlight, to identify potential victims of child trafficking by analyzing social media posts and escort ads. 29 Spotlight is now provided for free to police forces within the United States and Canada. 30 It's estimated to have rescued approximately 6,000 victims and reduced the investigation time by 65%.

Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth

Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth was established in 2013 with a focus on equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion globally. The Center provides data, expertise, technology and investments to researchers and philanthropies that focus on these goals.

As cities focus on redevelopment programmes, reducing greenhouse gases, and smart city initiatives, access to free Wi-Fi and bike sharing are often part of these efforts. The Center has provided researchers at New York University with access to anonymized credit card data to see how these efforts are working and impacting sales in surrounding retail outlets. 31

Another project involves tracking the benefits of microlending in Kenya. Mastercard also sponsored and participated in the Digital Impact World Tour. In 2Q18, Mastercard announced a contribution of $100 million to the Center as part of a total $500 million pledge. 32

Gartner Recommended Reading


1 CDO survey: The data from the CDO survey comes from Gartner's third annual chief data officer survey, conducted during July, August and September 2017 by phone and online. The survey included 287 CDOs, chief analytics officers (CAOs) and other high-level data and analytics leaders from across the world. See "Survey Analysis: Third Gartner CDO Survey — How Chief Data Officers Are Driving Business Impact."

Gartner's second annual CDO survey was conducted during July and August 2016 by phone and online. That survey included 180 CDOs, CAOs and other high-level data and analytics leaders from across the world. The question related to data ethics was phrased differently in the respective surveys. In 2017, the question was related to personal accountability in ensuring ethical usage, while in 2016, the question was related to partnering with the chief risk officer to ensure ethical usage of data.

2 "2018 Edelman Trust Barometer: Global Report." Edelman. 2018.

3 ITScore assessments were completed by Gartner clients from May 2016 through June 2017. They answered the question, "To what degree do you mostly or completely agree with the following statements: 'The business analysts are competent and have high levels of skills required to leverage analytics and BI initiatives.' 'Technical staff (IT, BICC, ACE) are competent and have high levels of skills required to implement and support analytics and BI initiatives.'" N = 892

4 Gartner analysis of social media mentions of various key words for "data for good," "data science for good," "AI for good" from 2Q15 to 1Q18 across various channels. These channels included Twitter, Facebook, aggregator websites, blogs, news, mainstream media, forums and videos (comments only). High counts of mentions should not be considered an indication of positive sentiment by default. All regions and major world languages were covered for the study.

5 "Data Insights: Measuring the Economic Impact of 'Smart City' Innovations." The Center for Urban Science and Progress ( NYU CUSP ) . December 2017.

6 "The Next Chapter for Flu Trends." Google AI Blog. August 2015.

7 "City Governments Are Using Yelp to Tell You Where Not to Eat." Harvard Business Review. February 2015.

8 "U.S. SIF Foundation Biennial Report on U.S. Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends." The U.S. SIF Foundation. 2016.

9 "The Rise of Responsible Investing in Australia." Australian Ethical. February 2018.

10 "Rise of Ethical Investing Prompts Corporate Soul-Searching." Nikkei Asian Review. October 2017.

11 "Pivotal For Good With Crisis Text Line: Using Text Analytics to Better Serve At-Risk Teens." DataKind. May 2015.

12 "Pivotal For Good with Crisis Text Line: A First Look." Pivotal. December 2014.

13 "Which Whale Is It, Anyway? Face Recognition for Right Whales Using Deep Learning." January 2016.

14 "NOAA Right Whale Recognition, Winners' Interview: 1st place," No Free Hunch. January 2016.

15 "How AI for Earth Can Be a Force Multiplier for Sustainability Solutions." Microsoft. January 2018.

16 "Fighting the Good Fight. With Data." Exasol. April 2018.

17 "It helps to Have Friends in Tech (Unless You're a Malaria Parasite)." PATH. April 2018.

18 CEB TalentNeuron leverages big data technologies and proprietary analytics to deliver unique market data, insights and decision-support tools to determine where to locate talent, who to hire and how to gain strategic competitive advantage through effective talent planning and management. CEB TalentNeuron maintains a database that includes more than 1.2 billion job descriptions covering talent demand. Data and analytics job searches included data science and business intelligence skills from 28 Jun 2017 to 28 June 2018.

19 "The Age of Analytics: Competing in a Data-Driven World." McKinsey & Co. December 2016.

20 "Data Scientist Jobs: Where Does the Big Data Talent Gap Lie?" IT Pro. October 2017.

21 "Demand for Data Science Skills in Scotland Continues to Rise." SBNN. June 2018.

22 "5 Companies Doing Corporate Philanthropy Right." TriplePundit. March 2015.

23 "Cause We Care: Social Issues That Matter to Consumers." Nielsen. June 2014.

24 "The 50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back in 2018." Fortune. February 2018.

25 "Using Social Media Analytics During Disasters: Lessons From the 2015 Chennai Floods." Forbes. May 2018.

26 This case study original featured in the publication C. Howson, "Successful Business Intelligence: Unlock the Value of BI and Big Data." McGraw-Hill Education. 2013.

27 "How the Data That Internet Companies Collect Can Be Used for the Public Good." Harvard Business Review. January 2018.

28 Gender and Urban Mobility in Chile. The GovLab.

29 We Found a Way…to Empower Law Enforcement to Identify and Assist Trafficked Children. Thorn Case Study. Digital Reasoning.

30 Spotlight Helps Find Kids Faster. Thorn.

31 "Data Insights: Measuring the Economic Impact of 'Smart City' Innovations." Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. December 2017.

32 "Mastercard Announces Initial Contribution to $500 Million Inclusive Growth Fund." Mastercard. April 2018.

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