One of the issues we run into over and over with our clients is the need for good data from a specific community in a short amount of time. Right now affordable & attainable data is usually so old to no longer be meaningful or of very poor quality. We’re partnering with Orb and Cognite Labs and building a tool that will help non-profits gather better quality data in real time.
For example, consider a local school district thinking about merging two smaller elementary schools into one larger school. The issue is complex – with many social, political, economic implications and impacts on many diverse families. We’d love to use official data to help make the decision – but the official data is all too old to be meaningful in the current situation. We’d like to run a survey on our twitter feed and on the local Facebook groups – but the responses to these are likely to be skewed in hard to predict ways. We’re building a tool that will help solve this problem. The tool would empower administrators to get a more accurate picture of the community’s views on the issue, rather than making decisions based on the unreliable gauges of input from community meetings or raw data from mass surveys.
Another example is in an emergent environmental or political crisis. Local governments and social service agencies want to understand the impact these situations are having on the ground in current time. They need reliable data to understand complex trends – both social and physical. They need solid information to manage limited resources in the most effective and efficient way. Large administrative datasets can be helpful as a starting point. But they’re usually out of date. And often haven’t asked the specific questions the decision makers on the ground and their funding agencies need to know. Our new tools will allow these organizations to conduct online or SMS surveys in crisis situations and process the data so that it’s more reflective of the entire community – not just a biased sample of respondents.
The survey tool, developed by leaders from Orb, Datassist, and Cognite Labs, empowers virtually anyone to easily collect, understand, and share more credible conclusions from crowd-sourced survey. Users without access to costly opinion polling will no longer have to rely on best guesses, anecdotes, or raw responses to questionnaires or surveys conducted through online sources. Instead, they will now be able to augment the existing approach with a set of software tools and online services that frame proper sampling questions, help construct, link, embed them into these existing survey and Q&A platforms, and help visualize and then statistically adjust the collected results, weighing them for demographic and other factors to make them more scientifically sound.
With the Knight award, this survey tool will be developed and made available at no cost to anyone wishing to poll the crowd and share reliable, credible results. Knight Foundation is the leading U.S. funder of journalism and media innovation, and its Knight News Challenge on Data is funding breakthrough ideas that make data work for individuals and communities. Datassist is proud to be partnering in this opportunity with Orb, a nonprofit organization upgrading the reach, role and business model for journalism in the digital age. Orb is developing the survey tool to expand and diversify the sources for journalism. Orb is fusing professional reporting with data analysis and knowledge from the crowd to produce journalism that empowers individuals with a global picture of our interconnected world.
As we move forward with the development of the tool, we’ll be looking for volunteer organizations to test it out and get early access to valuable data. Send us a message if you’re interested in this opportunity. Sign up for our monthly resources to keep up to date with the tool as it updates and to be part of the beta testers.