“From climate change to terrorism, the difficulties confronting policy makers are unprecedented in their variety, but also in their complexity. Our existing policy tool kit seems stale and outdated. Increasingly, it is clear, we need not only new solutions but also new methods for arriving at solutions. Data, and new methods for organizations to collaborate in order to extract insights from data, is likely to become more central to meeting these challenges.
In particular, the vast streams of data generated through social media platforms, when analyzed responsibly, can offer insights into societal patterns and behaviors. These types of behaviors are hard to generate with existing social science methods. All this information poses its own problems, of complexity and noise, of risks to privacy and security, but it also represents tremendous potential for mobilizing new forms of intelligence.
In a recent report, we examine ways to harness this potential while limiting and addressing the challenges. Developed in collaboration with Facebook, the report seeks to understand how public and private organizations can join forces to use social media data — through data collaboratives — to mitigate and perhaps solve some of our most intractable policy dilemmas.”