Private data for public good: a partnership model

In a quantified era like the one we're living in, data is likely to become more central in addressing some of today's most vexing problems. Even the vast streams of data generated through social media platforms, when analyzed responsibly, can offer insights into societal patterns and behaviors. The problem is that today most of these data is collected by the private sector and typically kept in corporate databases.

In a new article out in the Harvard Business Review, citing a recent report developed in collaboration with Facebook, Stefaan G. Verhulst and Andrew Young of GovLab highlight six kinds of public-private partnership models, in which private sector, governments, researchers and civil societies could come together to exchange data and pool analytical expertise in order to create new public value,    while limiting and addressing potential challenges (complexity, noise, risks to privacy and security).

How can the exchange of data help solving public problems? Authors identify five public-value propositions: situational awareness and response, knowledge creation and transfer, public service design and delivery, prediction and forecasting, impact assessment and evaluation. As an example, they also mention the recent creation of a data collaborative with UNICEF, Universidad del Desarrollo, Telefónica R&D Center, DigitalGlobe and ISI Foundation, supported by Data2X, to leverage mobile phone and satellite imagery to increase the understanding of how megacities can create safer, more-efficient mobility solutions for women and girls.

How the Data That Internet Companies Collect Can Be Used for the Public Good, Stefaan G. Verhulst and Andrew Young, Harvard Business Review, January 23, 2018. Full article:https://hbr.org/2018/01/how-the-data-that-internet-companies-collect-can-be-used-for-the-public-good