Bettering the World through Data Science

By Lillian Pierson

Because data science involves complex methods, approaches, and findings, you can easily lose sight of the goal for any given project — looking so closely at the bark of the trees that you forget to find your way out of the forest, in other words. A lot of data scientists have wasted tons of time spinning wheels because of this common pitfall.

Stay purpose-driven during your data science explorations. Whether you’re looking to discover factors that contribute to customer churn or trying to predict future purchasing patterns based on historical time series, make sure to constantly keep your goal in mind. Regularly step back from your work in order to assess whether what you’re doing is the fastest and most efficient method to reach your goals.

To see what staying goal-oriented means in the real world, take a look at an organization that’s using data science to save lives and protect public safety.

The humanitarian organization Elva is using data science to protect community safety in the international conflict zones of South Libya and the South Ossetian region on the Georgia–Russia border by developing a platform that accepts and transmits data from citizen-reporter smartphones to national-security decision makers. The platform establishes a two-way medium across which information can be exchanged via data visualization, analysis, and citizen reporting. Elva also uses time series regression for forecasting and early warning on potential security events.