Social Data for Social Good in the Public Sector

Two weeks ago, I was invited to an event hosted by FEMA and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with more than 80 top innovators across commercial and government sectors to discuss new ways to improve disaster response and recovery efforts. Gnip was taking part in this event because we and others believe that social data can play a critical role in natural disaster recovery and can provide some of the best feet on the ground reporting.

But we don’t think social data for the social good begins and ends with natural disasters. In fact, we think it’s only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve seen social data being used to track the spread of cholera in Haiti after their earthquake in 2010. Because official reporting methods in epidemiology often take two weeks to obtain official results while social data provides immediacy. Social data is even used to identify food poisoning outbreaks and where food borne illnesses are most likely to occur.

Uses are even expanding in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily expect including using social data to understand the effects and reach of governmental programs. Social data can provide insight into segments of the population that may have been traditionally hard to survey, such as veterans or younger generations that may not be inclined to reply to survey requests. Social data could even be used to identify the economic impact of government-based initiatives or events, through analyzing “check-ins” on platforms like Foursquare to understand how local economies may be positively affected by government based initiatives.

Recognizing that social data is still relatively new to the public sector, we put together a whitepaper to discuss what social data is, how it can be used, and the current implications of social data. While this whitepaper is primarily intended for those just beginning to look at social data, you can expect more content coming your way from Gnip about how to effectively leverage social data in the public sector.

 Download the whitepaper.