Data For The Greater Good

It has been said that everything in our world has a data equivalent, if this is true then could we harness this data to fix problems in the human world?

As we continue to innovate through technology, how can we ensure that we use this data for genuine problems? There will always be the temptation to create a new Silicon Valley inspired juicing machine, but shouldn’t this data and knowledge be better applied to end, for example, the opioid crisis which ravages the US?

At this year’s TNW Conference I was inspired to see the industry taking note of real-world challenges and looking to data for the solutions.

Digital Footprint

We have been leaving metaphorical breadcrumbs of our journeys online long before we knew anything about online privacy, consent or the GDPR. This ‘digital footprint’ has multiplied its tracks over the last 11 years thanks to the launch of the iPhone, the first smartphone to create public mass appeal.

Data is everywhere and the world now officially has a “data problem,” according to James Whittaker of Microsoft. Data is ingrained in ever increasing aspects of our everyday world and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. This is our world now, and actually, a lot of our technology and development as a modern world would not have happened if not for data.

We should not be afraid of this evolution, but rather we should look to understand it. If the Cambridge Analytica scandal of late gave us one takeaway, it’s that there is an alarming need to educate people on data; what it is, where it goes and its value.

Problem-solving with data

When faced with a problem, it is much easier to analyse the facts to find a solution. Opinions and bias’ only make decision making harder and more emotional.

Let’s take the biggest problem most of us face on a weekly basis; what to watch on the telly? The concept if TV watching has spawned a wave of anxious channel surfing, we are overwhelmed with options by OTT services and in a rush to find something good before or dinner gets cold!

But what if our TV, this large black mirror in the corner of our living rooms, could make recommendations to us? At TNW James Whittaker posed the question ‘why can’t our data be streamlined between all of our daily touchpoints? My TV, my Twitter account, my travel plans, my credit card, my hot tub?’ In an ideal world, we would have no walled gardens, our data would talk multiple languages. However, we don’t and it may be a while before major 1st party data players start sharing out their golden chips.

I look forward to that day but we aren’t there yet, can we create a universal exchange of data to ensure we are solving problems efficiently? Will that day ever come?

Viacom and Stndby: data for the greater good

Viacom wanted to solve a real-life problem through the use of data. They became aware of the epidemic of Opioid abuse (and ultimately, overdosing) throughout the US. Startling figures show that in the States, a person dies every 19 minutes from an overdose from an over-the-counter drug.

After in-depth research, Viacom discovered that a main contributing factor to Opioid abuse was loneliness. A human emotion stemming from a missing tier of Maslow’s basic hierarchy of needs.

This research triggered a partnership between Viacom and an incredible artificial intelligence messaging platform, Stndby, to provide a platform for people to seek support. In Viacom’s words, “We’re partnering with Stndby to provide emotionally intelligent and automated support systems that will guide you to becoming a better version of yourself.”

This is a superb example of using data to solve problems and make meaningful human connections through AI. For more information on Viacom and Stndby’s platform click here.

As our industry continues to innovate, accelerate and profit from data technology, I hope we take companies such as Viacom and Stndby’s lead and follow in their direction of using data as a powerful means to add value to our world.

If you are interested in attending The Next Web conference hosted in Amsterdam, please click here.

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