Making a Dream Become a Reality with the Launch of Data Storytelling for Good
By: Dan Platt
So much more than enterprise software
I’ve been at Narrative Science since the company was founded in 2010 and have been a part of some amazing things. Many of them have filled me with tremendous pride about how our technology, products, and company have grown.
My personal focus (along with the other hardworking employees of Narrative Science) over the last nine years has been to develop exciting data storytelling products. Perhaps more importantly, we want to make sure our customers are delighted when using our products and interacting with our people. It is tremendously rewarding to know we have helped thousands of people in various industries across our suite of products.
But I have always believed data storytelling was destined for so much more. I believe what we do can have a global impact. Data storytelling can make the world a better place for millions or billions of people. It can help reduce poverty and hunger, it can increase access to education and jobs, it can make citizens more aware of how government is working, and it can help reduce the impact of natural disasters on communities. It can do a whole bunch of other things not listed here and that I can’t even think of.
This has always been my dream: for data storytelling to be used to help in the fight of solving the problems of the world. Narrative Science’s technology can be used at the local level all the way up to the global level to make the world a better place for everyone.
But how can Narrative Science impact people on a global scale? Well, a few ways:
- We realize this mission is a marathon and not a sprint. We should consider every single life we positively impact as a victory.
- We try to get our technology into the hands of people who are already doing good in their communities and for people around the world.
- We commit to making sure our technology is not used in ways that are ultimately detrimental to society.
- We work to become leaders in showing how advanced technology can be used to impact everyone, not just the data literate.
With all of that being said, I am super excited to announce the launch of Narrative Science’s Data Storytelling for Good initiative. I am honored and humbled to be tasked by our company’s leadership at making the above points a reality.
So what exactly is Data Storytelling for Good?
It is Narrative Science putting our proverbial ‘money where our mouth is.’ We will use our technology to make the world a better place. In addition to stepping up our efforts to promote the use of technology for social good, we will provide our products to organizations doing good already to help them do more good.
- Marathon, not a sprint: While it is my ultimate goal for data storytelling to impact billions of people worldwide, I realize it may take a while to get there. Therefore, we are totally open and excited to work with organizations large and small that are doing good in their community. I believe this stone is being advanced up the hill with every single person data storytelling affects in a positive way.
- Get our technology in the hands of organizations doing good: If you are a recognized charitable, nonprofit, nongovernmental, educational, or social change organization that is doing good, we would love to talk to you about how we can help your mission. Visit our Data Storytelling for Good page to see our program criteria and to fill out an application.
- Commit to making sure our technology is used responsibly: Powerful technology in the wrong hands or used for the wrong purposes can be very dangerous. We are focused on making sure our products are used to help, not hurt, people.
- Thought leadership: We plan to be vocal contributors to the general data for good movement and will seek to write and speak about how data storytelling can make the world a better place.
How can Narrative Science and our products help?
The great part about this initiative is that we believe many of the same challenges facing the enterprise also impact nonprofit organizations focused on social good.
Communication to constituents: Using data storytelling, organizations deliver personalized stories to a wide audience of donors or other stakeholders at a cadence unachievable by traditional methods.
Internal operations: Data storytelling can help with internal reporting so staff can spend more time helping beneficiaries of programs or more time on fundraising or other activities.
Removing the data literacy barrier: Ultimately, if data can be communicated through stories rather than tools with steep learning curves, more people across more communities can have fair shots at jobs and opportunities that require interacting with data.
I will freely admit we plan for this program to grow and evolve. We know those working in the trenches on difficult problems will have even more ways data storytelling can help. So, I would love to hear from you. Please go here and let us know how we can help.
What is your history with this initiative?
Like I mentioned above, I have been at Narrative Science for more than eight years. Throughout my tenure, we have dabbled in these noncommercial spaces. In 2013, for example, we worked with ProPublica on its opportunity gap story to use data storytelling to give life to nationwide school performance data. We’ve created one-off applications around Chicago crime, Lake Michigan water quality, and Chicago bike share usage.
I’ve given presentations about our technology where I’ve talked about potential applications in municipal government, education, and other noncommercial spaces, and in my mind, the possibilities for our products to help in these spaces are endless. We’ve talked about stories that help teachers understand student performance or stories to help students understand their own performance. We’ve talked about how global nongovernmental organizations could use stories to be more effective in how they fight disease or hunger in vulnerable communities around the world. All of this and more is possible with Narrative Science’s suite of products.
Personally, I’ve been inspired by the data for good initiatives already underway by companies in the business intelligence, data science, data preparation, and analytics spaces. Examples include Qlik’s Change our World program, Tableau’s Tableau Foundation grants to nonprofits, Salesforce.org, Splunk4Good, and many others.
I believe our products provide that last mile in communication of data to insight, and we want to join this mission. We want to show when technology is used for good, it can make the world a better place. And specifically, when OUR technology is used for good, it can make a tremendous impact on society.
How can I get involved?
If you are a recognized charitable, nonprofit, nongovernmental, educational, or social change organization that is doing good, we would love to talk to you about how we can help your mission.
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