Homelessness is a growing problem in many countries, for different reasons: in England, the migrant crisis; in Vancouver, Canada, lack of affordable housing; and in the U.S., often veterans fighting post-traumatic stress. One of the challenges in combating homelessness and ensuring adequate care is that the data regarding homeless populations isn’t standardized across sectors. This makes it difficult to coordinate care across multiple organizations.
The Community Technology Alliance (CTA), founded in 1991 to develop data-driven solutions to poverty and homelessness, is charged with coordinating data collection and cleansing. This information is put into dashboards to help understand needs of the homeless and to coordinate and provide care across multiple agencies. In 2015, with support from the Tableau Foundation and Interworks, CTA launched a data fellows program to develop data leads tasked with using data to tell a story about homelessness in their cities. This is just one example of Data for Good.
Data can be used for the good of society
Data and analytics leaders are in a unique position to build programs that benefit the Data for Good movement, in which people and organizations transcend organizational boundaries to use data to improve society.
“If you are a chief data officer 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,’” says Cindi Howson, research vice president,at Gartner. “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.”
CTA isn’t the only organization using data for the betterment of society. MasterCard anonymizes credit card data to be analyzed for smart city initiatives. Google offers hospitals search data to predict infection disease outbreaks and Yelp offers ratings data to cities to prioritize food safety inspectors.