Articles by

Jake Porway

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    Jake Porway is founder and executive director of DataKind. Below he writes about DataKind’s work and the question posed by the Knight News Challenge on Data, How might we make data work for individuals and communities? Winners of the challenge will share in $3 million. Apply at newschallenge.org. Above: Vision Zero vigil, July 2015. Photo by Miriam Young/DataKind.  Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and websites, we now have more data about ourselves and our world than ever before. This information has the potential to reveal critical insights about tough social issues affecting our cities, the environment, our health and more. Data science is a powerful way to extract these insights and inform our decision-making; companies use it all the time to increase their profits. At DataKind, we apply these same techniques and advanced analytics in the service of humanity. It’s an idea that’s on our minds as we consider the question posed by the Knight News Challenge on Data: How might we make data work for individuals and communities? One thing we’ve learned is that applying data science for social good takes more than finding the right data or the right technical approach; it takes bringing together the right people to define the challenge and co-create solutions.
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    A volunteer during one of DataKind's DataDives. Photo from DataKind on Flickr. Jake Porway is founder and executive director of DataKind, a nonprofit that connects social good organizations with leading data scientists to solve problems and inform decision-making. When we launched DataKind in 2011 we had big dreams about just how powerful data science could be in helping social change organizations around the world tackle huge issues such as health care, poverty and education. We were overwhelmed with interest from data scientists eager to use their skills to make a difference and social sector leaders eager to learn more about how data science could help them transform their work. We had ideas about how to bring these two groups of talented and passionate individuals together, but they were just ideas. Now, three years into our adventure, we’ve created a suite of programs designed to deliver powerful data science resources to mission-driven organizations.
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    Knight Foundation supports DataKind to make better use of data science for social good. Below, Jake Porway, founder and executive director of DataKind, writes about opportunities to help mission-driven organizations benefit from the massive amounts of data being generated today. Above: "The Power of Data Science." For a self-proclaimed “data geek” these are exciting times. Almost every interaction we have with each other and with our world now takes place digitally, and all of those interactions create data. From household data for the U.S. Census to the GPS data of the last place I bought milk, troves of publicly accessible data hold hidden stories of how we interact with our world. Moreover, the cost and ubiquity of technology makes accessing and processing that data easier every day. This data is an incredible—but frequently untapped—resource for organizations working day in and day out to make the world a better place. Why would social impact, advocacy and mission-driven organizations not take advantage of such a powerful tool? Too often it’s because they just don’t have the skill set, the resources, or the internal culture to leverage what’s possible. On the other hand, we know from personal experience that there are thousands of data scientists in our communities passionate about applying their professional and technical skills outside of their day jobs to improve society.  We started DataKind in 2011 to bridge this gap, teaming high-performing data scientists with forward-thinking organizations to use data science to help better fulfill their missions.