How Data Helps Save the World
By Amit Kumar Nahata
Have you ever watched a problem go unsolved simply because enough people didn’t get together and do something about it? The digital era has given us an easy way to get the support needed to solve such problems – Online Petition Platforms. Here’s a rundown on online petition platforms and how the data science that drives them is helping save the world.
What can online petition platforms do?
An online petition platform allows users to create petitions to make achievable changes, which can be seen and heard by policy makers. It also allows decision makers to respond to petitions and engage with users to help ensure that the suggested changes are carried out well and are long lasting.
Online petition platforms like Change.org are useful and important. Unlike social media, where users can only view, share, and comment on posts, online petition platforms allow users to influence policies with the click of a button.
How predictive data brings in change:
With enough data points about user behavior and petition categories, the platform can recommend more petitions that could interest specific users. As those petitions gather momentum and policies are updated, users realize that their voices are heard and come back to do more. A large amount of behavioral data is available for non-governmental and other cause-driven organizations, which can help target the right people to support their causes.
Recommendation algorithms need to have the right kind of data to work with as it helps create maximum impact. At Change.org, petitions are categorized carefully. In fact, along with the expected data science departments like Data Engineering, Qualitative Analytics, and Machine Learning, there is a Content Science department dedicated to taxonomy. To overcome the limitations of Natural Language Processing this department works to ensure that petitions are categorized correctly across languages and cultural contexts. This step ensures that users around the world are able to easily find petitions relevant to them.
How data ensures that change is consistent:
Organizations looking for support online rely on data that helps predict which users will most likely align with their cause. For instance, if organizations choose to pay and put up sponsored petitions, Change.org asks users who have signed sponsored petitions, if they would like to provide their contact information to the organization and continue to track the progress of the petition. With this data, organizations can find individual sponsors and contributors to their cause.
Essentially, through high user engagement and vast amounts of data, petition platforms are able to create real impact in the world. These platforms have already positively affected the lives of those who are often left out of decision making. They have given a voice to those who were unheard hitherto. These voices don’t even have to come together in millions to make a difference. Change can be brought about even at a small scale. If a local issue is supported by a majority of the locality, it can be influential, even if the number of signatures might only be a few hundreds. With this kind of power at our fingertips, fueled by data science, we owe it to ourselves to save the world.
Have you ever signed or created a petition to begin a change in the society? Tell us in the comments.