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October 18, 2019

Using Social Data to Create a Safer World

At Dataminr, we often describe ourselves as a “mission-driven” company, and many employees list that as one of the top reasons they decided to join the Dataminr team. One of the things we’re most proud of is our partnership with Twitter and the United Nations. These relationships showcase the value of public social data in service of a greater good and help make the world a safer place. While we have worked with Twitter for years, Dataminr and UN Global Pulse announced our UN partnership in May 2019, at the #AIforGood conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Through this partnership, the UN is using Dataminr’s First Alert product in support of humanitarian response across the globe.

In September, during the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City, we were fortunate to co-host a special event with UN Global Pulse and Twitter. Over 200 people from the UN System, foundations, academia, NGOs, and enterprises joined us for a lively and wide-ranging dialogue on the role of real-time social data in advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (#PartnerforProgress2019).

During the panel discussion, I discussed some of the challenges of using social data for good: processing and understanding data at a massive scale, reducing “big data” to a small set of highly relevant alerts that are actionable, and quickly delivering these alerts into the hands of people who can put them to use in the field. The UN partnership with Dataminr illustrates this challenge and opportunity vividly, enabling nearly 2,000 personnel in over 50 countries across the UN System to receive the earliest breaking news alerts in their daily workflow. 

Equipped with real-time Alerts from First Alert, personnel from UN agencies received critical real-time information about cyclones Idai and Kenneth. These real-time alerts put UN officials in a position to better allocate resources and inform on-the-ground personnel in Mozambique. Real-time news alerts were provided to UN staff, based on emerging events as first described on  social media by eyewitnesses on the ground. These types of alerts can help workers enter vulnerable areas safely and provide critical, in-person assistance to as many affected individuals as possible.

It is gratifying for our entire team at Dataminr to see social data for good in action, especially in response to natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and other calamities. Public-private partnerships thrive when all partners embrace a combination of the innovation mentality that fuels the tech sector, with the mission-driven dedication of public sector organizations.

We are hopeful that the partnerships between the UN, Twitter and Dataminr are inspiring models for public-private partnerships of the future, and that we will see even closer collaboration between governments, NGOs and private sector tech companies to work together towards the common goal of creating a safer world for everyone.

Topic(s): Corporate Risk

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