Applying Data Science to Social Good causes

Before I begin, I need to liberally link the two social good groups that are closest to my heart. I can only comment on the Sydney community of meetups, however, the two that stand out for me are:

  • The Minerva Collective – The Minerva Collective is a fantastic bunch of people from a variety of professions in Sydney that meet to discuss, brainstorm and tackle social problems at large by applying Data Science in Australia. Typically The Minerva Collective partners with organisations who will share data on the Minerva Collective – Data Republic platform to achieve a number of objectives. Some great work happening here.
  • Data for Democracy – Sydney – An amazing, talented and open minded group of data scientists, analysts, engineers & data nerds that all relate to: D4D – Origin Story. If you have an evening spare you should certainly go along!
  • Both Minerva & D4D – Sydney work because they have people like you willing to spend time and energy on the problems the community face. Give them a try!

Gratuitous plug over

For more years than I can count I’ve always enjoyed the satisfaction of helping others, solving problems and coming up with new ideas to try improve either a technical process or rethink how business processes work.

It’s only in the recent years that I’ve actually found like-minded individuals and groups in the Sydney scene for applying Data Science/Analytics to social good causes.

It’s not all totally selfless altruism and that’s OK

Now i’d be lying if I said I carried the work out for not for profits/NGOs or charities is purely through in blood altruism:

For me, I see it as a combination of altruism and a inherent feel good factor to try and help others that are in need.

And that’s OK as far as I see it. I’m still relatively new to applying my time and passion to solving these kind of problems, and what I now recognise is that you have to find a balance that keeps you happy.

As far as I see it, if you want to give back to society with your skills (whether in Data Science, Accounting or anything else) it takes time. But, unequivocally the time is absolutely worth it, regardless of the effort.

Success is all about persistence and doing the right thing for the long term

So, yep it’s a rather cliched title and I use it because working in your own time to apply your skills for the good of others is TOUGH and unrelenting, and it’s not generally due to technical difficulties. In my experience it has been due to a lack of maturity in the use of data/technology, lack of time/resource or substantive expertise in the area you’re focusing in. When you actually focus on the classifier, visualisation or clustering algorithm you’ve hopefully got a lot of the hard work done for you. Hopefully.

So, if its hard and you’re not doing it purely for altruistic reasons why should you devote your skills and time to help others?

Penny drop


As mentioned earlier i’m relatively new in the journey of attempting to help others by applying my skills in Data Science & Analytics, however, I can categorically state the feeling I first received from my first meetup with The Minerva Collective.

I left the meetup buzzing with excitement and passion for what was possible by meeting like-minded, talented and curious people together in a group setting to discuss approaches to a business problem or problems that a particular NFP/NGO or organisation may face. It was like the penny dropped in front of my eyes, and to me even better than this is seeing the penny drop in other’s eyes…here we were talking about problems like childhood obesity, mental health or domestic violence in a setting that simply set the neurons firing and got prototypes or hypotheses going.

Needless to say, this doesn’t even include the combination of new contacts and knowledge on Data Science you’ll certainly pick up by attending these events. Whether you’re mentoring someone or listening to a guru, you’ll learn and by the process of osmosis will improve your skills.

As always: 01110100 01101000 01100001 01101110 01101011 01110011 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100001 01100100 01101001 01101110 01100111



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