The Harvard Business Review blog recently featured an interesting piece from Matt Stempeck around an alternative method of philanthropy for corporates; data sharing. Stempeck highlights the power of sharing data, and how this is adds just as much – if not more – value that traditional corporate philanthropy.
This has already been achieved with satellite imagery, and allows “crisis response departments and relevant UN departments to request on-demand access to the visuals captured by these ‘eyes in the sky’ to better assess damage and coordinate relief efforts.” Now, with organisations like Uber collecting vast amounts of data based on its cars, drivers and traffic, Stempeck argues that this data could be valuable to wider organisations, especially nonprofits and governments. This will allow us to create “responsive cities.” He defines a responsive city as “one where services, infrastructure, and even policies can flexibly respond to the rhythms of its denizens in real-time.”
Furthermore, as an example of data philanthropy, “Twitter has piloted a program called Data Grants offering access to segments of their real-time global trove to select groups of researchers.” Though there are few other examples as of yet, the possibilities are wide ranging. Without a doubt, “private sector data contributions could greatly accelerate these nascent efforts.”
The article also offers its own step-by-step guide for organizations considering data philanthropy. Here at Markets For Good, we were pleased to read that the final step is “if you’re making data available to researchers, plan to allow researchers to publish their results without obstruction. You might also require them to share the findings with the world under Open Access terms.” This marks clear signs of progress in the burgeoning sharing economy.
Though this is a new and exciting means of philanthropy, it is clear that it makes for an effective approach for data rich organizations. “Next time your company is considering ways to further its social impact, consider providing access to data.”