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Big data being used to accurately address community needs

Although big data has become the buzzword for companies in 2012, it appears that the analytics strategy also has more altruistic applications. A recent ComputerWeekly article highlighted that three-quarters of charities recognize better use of data can make it possible to help more people, but most are still working to acquire the resources and data quality tools they need to do so effectively.

Brychan Watkins, chief information officer at Action for Children, told the source that IT adoption is more important than ever, and to accommodate it, "[the organization] invest(s) in a piecemeal approach, unlike years ago where big upfront investments were made. Technology has enabled us to streamline our processes, continue to raise awareness and deliver to those who need it most."

If these capabilities are implemented correctly, they can help organizations better address the needs of various communities. For example, some studies about mosquitoes breeding in drained or abandoned pools can be applied to countries stricken by malaria, according to The Wall Street Journal. Using satellite data, population density and weather information, nonprofits can preemptively educate communities about dangers and provide equipment to stave off infections, such as mosquito nets and insecticide sprays.

In an opinion piece that was recently printed in the Green Bay Gazette, Adam Hardy of the Brown County United Way wrote that big data practices can contribute to "community intelligence," which will help organizations anticipate and address needs in their areas.
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