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Global Pulse


Much of the insight we generate is actually hindsight and reflective. It draws data that is historical, looking back on what we have done and recorded and in some cases uses that to predict.

Where that analysis and insight is used to generate action and intervention that delay between the recorded data being analysed and the intervention being actioned can be a critical one. Currency in certain contexts can be critical.

Social tools give us the ability to radically reduce the cycle time of each iteration, and tools like ushahidi have tremendous power to provide contextually sensitive and highly timely data capture, processing and distribution to bring effective and useful results in disaster situations.

But this can be taken further. Our digital activity leaves a footprint as we know, and we hear a good deal about the business and commercial value of what is often referred to as Big Data. How about analysing that for social good?

Well you will be pleased to know that people are already bringing all of those things together – digital signals, real-time analysis, and intervention for social good and it’s being done under the banner of the UN.

The project is known as Global Pulse and amongst its major project is a scheme called hunch works which it describes as “the world’s first social network for hypothesis formation, evidence collection, and collective decision-making”.

Another project is seeking to use mood analysis of social media to map and understand changing job and employment conditions – in this case in the US and Ireland. This is being undertaken by a partner group SAS.

For me this type of work embodies a fascinating aspect of how we can use social tools for social good and the real upside of social technology. So when you hear the siren calls of doom sayers who gloomily relate how social media is used for criminal activity remind yourself that it does a lot more good, and take a bit of time to take a look into a more promising future by reviewing the work of Global Pulse.

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