Analytics as a Force for Good

The Flood Zone in Pakistan

I wanted to share a post that I wrote earlier this week for the International Institute for Analytics on how analytics and social media are reshaping crisis response.  In the Pakistan flood zone, software maker SAS has teamed up with the International Organization for Migration to use analytics to better understand the needs on the ground and predict which resources will be most in demand in which places.

Analytics of course depend on data. One of the most intriguing innovations in this area is Ushahidi, an open-source platform that gathers information from the front lines of a crisis via SMS text messages and e-mail. It emerged in Nigeria during post-election violence a couple of years back and has now been used in Haiti, Pakistan, and even the Gulf of Mexico.

These developments will affect leadership and decision making. Getting an accurate, objective picture of the situation you are facing is a critical challenge for any leader. These new tools will aid in that quest. They may also be accessible to others — such as the media and NGOs — who will use the information to drive the larger narrative of the event and the response to it.  So just as tools like Ushahidi will make life a bit easier, so too will they make it more complex.

Please check it out, read the full post, and share your thoughts.

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