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Data Science & Social Entrepreneurship

Data Science is the new fad of the 21st century.

The data space is now the cynosure of every big shot cubicle, considering it to be the raw material of the very business in future. Initially, considered to be only a catalyst for representation of large information in a visually appealing and understandable manner , the tech writers have now revitalised the term as it is also used to describe the benefits of large dataset analysis for fields of science, medicine, technology and business. Data analysis can decipher large-scale datasets, predict weather patterns, map outer space and comprehend bone decay. Moreover, it can also predict airline ticket prices and what not. It seems that accurate projections will no longer be a theoretical concept. Experts see data science as an empirically based problem solving tool.

In the midst of this data surge, we see data science creating social change and benefiting the society as well. Social entrepreneurs were quick to realize that using data is the key requirement if they hope to be more efficient and stand out with innovative solutions. GiveDirectly, a non-profit organisation operating in East Africa, uses mobile technology to transfer money to the families living in extreme poverty. It is, as a matter of fact, the perfect example of initiating change in the society. Looking for ways to increase its impact, GiveDirectly partnered with DataKind to create a more cost-efficient process for targeting poverty-stricken areas in need of cash. With the help of volunteer data scientists, DataKind came up with an algorithm that automatically identifies villages in need of cash transfers on the basis of their type of roofing, thus improving Give Directly’s work without any additional cost. In 2007, Ushahidi was formed to map user-generated reports of violence in post-election Kenya, and subsequently help spur donations to the region. Its Swift River platform was created to categorise and verify the crisis reports transmitted by ordinary individuals via emails, text messages and social media in a short period of time. Since its formation, Ushahidi has been facilitating eyewitness reporting and analysis of such reporting, right from the Haiti earthquake to the corruption in Macedonia. Vahanalytics, a startup based in India has designed an algorithm that captures real-time data about driving habits and road conditions using smartphones which is then processed by leveraging the power of big data. Zendrive, uses mobile sensor data that improves the safety of drivers worldwide. The list is endless and is expected to grow at an exponential rate in the near future.

Social entrepreneurship is evoking waves in the world of business and social justice and with the introduction of data science, this endeavour has speeded up. However, to reach its true destination, a high level of investment and awareness about this concept is the prerequisite, but post that, sky is the limit!

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