What social media data can benefit people’s lives when used in a responsible manner

The country was declared a “disaster zone” by Malawi’s government. When the crises unfolded, relief agencies, such as the Red Cross, for instance, Red Cross, were faced with the difficult task of distributing funds and aid to regions that were not recorded by the country’s map data, which meant that they were virtually unnoticed.

Humanitarian aid workers struggled to get through some of the most affected regions. The outcome was the fact that help didn’t always reach those in need.

To avoid similar gaps in knowledge in the near future, researchers, volunteers, and human rights workers in Malawi and across the globe have turned to a surprising collaborator: Facebook.

In 2016, in the context of its “Missing Maps” project, the Red Cross accessed Facebook’s rich population density information to locate and map those who were particularly at risk of natural disasters or health emergencies. Still, it was not recorded in the existing maps.

In the Local Map Parties local to Malawi, volunteers from Malawi utilized the Facebook satellite and population information, as well as other satellite images, for tracing roads, houses, and water points throughout Malawi’s communities.

Two years on, Missing Maps, in collaboration with Facebook, has identified more than 2 million people living in Malawi and has allowed aid and relief organizations to plan their projects in Malawi’s most disaster-prone regions.

Natural disasters can kill more than 100,000 people and impact or force the displacement of hundreds of millions each year. With climate change predicted to increase the intensity and frequency of catastrophes in the near future, the use of the power of social media, crowdsourcing, and other methods will get more crucial.

The possibilities of data collaborative

It is believed that the Malawi partnership is only one of the many manifestations of data collaborativesWe’ve described the term as being a novel kind of collaboration, which goes outside of the model of public-private partnerships that allows members from various sectors, such as private companies, as well as research institutions and government agencies, to share data to solve public issues.

Although collaboratives like these are popping up in various fields and sectors, the Malawi instance is a prime example of a specific kind of collaboration. This is what we would refer to as a “social media data collective.

Much focus has been given to the influence of social media on the political scene. However, a lot of value can be derived from the data generated by social media for the government, but only when it is taken care of.

Social media users are sharing and disclosing huge amounts of data. Facebook alone gathers 98 unique individual data pieces of its members, and Twitter handles about 6000 tweets every second.

With a total of 2.51 billion users on social networks around the globe, A staggering amount of information can be obtained about individuals and their activities from social networks.

There is no doubt that a significant portion of the information stored by social media firms can be made public in a responsible manner to help groups working in the public’s interest with fresh ideas and options to take action. Unfortunately, these groups are only given limited access to data, and their expertise in data science is similarly sluggish.

Data collaborations such as the Missing Maps project represent a modern and contemporary way of corporate social responsibility.

The event was a Missing Maps project event at Facebook’s London offices. OpenStreetMap

For example, LinkedIn has established the Economic Graph Research initiative to use their data along with a number of third-party researchers in order to provide aggregated insights that will increase access to ” economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.” This indicates a growing interest in companies to give access to their data in order to attain social responsibility objectives.

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