Big Data

DataSift works with the United Nations to analyze social data for humanitarian missions

Image Credit: Illustration by VentureBeat / Eric Blattberg

Updated at 9:58 a.m. PST to show DataSift provides access to social data from more than just Twitter.

Social data provider DataSift and the United Nations Global Pulse today announced a partnership to pursue the “social good of the highest order,” as Rob Bailey, DataSift’s chief executive, put it.

The DataSift platform enables companies to aggregate and filter social data from Twitter and other data sources to do data analysis. This is valuable for big brands to monitor public opinions and for companies to make social data informed decisions.

Global Pulse is United Nations’ big data innovation lab. It hires a bunch of data scientists for humanitarian purpose, tackling issues such as disease outbreak, unemployment and food security.

There are more and more non-profits leveraging data science to solve social problems. Obama’s chief Data scientist Rayid Ghani has already been running the Data Science for Social Good fellowship at University of Chicago for two years, backed by Google chief Eric Schmidt. Code for America is also working on a big data project to reduce ER calls in the California city of Long Beach.

In this partnership, DataSift provides Global Pulse free access to its data sources including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, WordPress as well as DataSift’s data filtering system VEDO.

To perform the analysis, Global Pulse combines the social data with official statistics from agencies such as UNICEF, UNAID and World Bank.

One example is monitoring vaccination. “We want to look at the official number of how many children in a region where UNICEF for instance works, how many people have been counted in the official number of being vaccinated,” said Anoush Tatevossian, strategic communications & partnerships officer at Global Pulse in an interview with VentureBeat. “And we compare numbers that are in our statistics with the social media conversation.”

“I think it’s a real win-win. It’s a real win for the Global Pulse team because they get free access to this data information,” said Jason Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing at DataSift, in an interview with VentureBeat. “It’s a real win for DataSift as well, because we get to promote the usage of social data beyond just brand sentiment analysis.”

DataSift is the only independent Twitter firehose after Apple acquired Topsy in December last year and Twitter acquired Gnip in April this year.

So how has the relationship between Twitter and DataSift changed since the Gnip acquisition?

“Our relationship is very good with Twitter,” said Rose. “And things have been pretty much business as usual.”

Rose also pointed it out DataSift’s independence is important for a couple of factors.

“Twitter is one of our data sources and it’s a particularly important data source. But it’s not the only data source,” said Rose.

“We look at having that independence as the ability to take in these other social networks, media stream so to speak, and not have the worrying concern providing data to a competitor or competitor social network.”

Another reason for being independent is that, “we will be able to take a much more unbiased view of the features and capabilities we build,” said Rose.  “We tend to build things in a more generalized format that meets the needs of all social networks.”

More information:

DataSift provides very granular and modular ‘sifting’ functions from a wide range of social and web input feeds, augmenting them with sentiment analysis, storage and analytics to offer an unrivalled service platform which leverages... read more »

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