Us­ing so­cial data to save lives

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Ottawa - Alex ab­del­wa­hab

It’s a sim­ple but am­bi­tious pur­suit: How to use ex­ist­ing data in ways that could save lives.

The idea was dis­cussed this month at the In­dige­nous Con­trolled Tech­nol­ogy Fo­rum in Ottawa, which brought to­gether In­dige­nous lead­ers, tech com­pa­nies, po­lice and the min­is­ter of In­dige­nous and North­ern Af­fairs, Carolyn Ben­nett.

In­dige­nous women and girls in Canada are dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by all forms of vi­o­lence. An In­dige­nous-led so­lu­tion would, ac­cord­ing to ad­vo­cates, tackle this prob­lem by an­a­lyz­ing ex­ist­ing so­cial data to iden­tify risk fac­tors.

“This is In­dige­nous data, and it should be housed within an In­dige­nous fa­cil­ity,” said Grand Chief Joseph Tok­wiro Nor­ton for the Mo­hawk Coun­cil of Kah­nawá:ke.

In fact, such data al­ready does re­side in Kah­nawá:ke, just out­side Mon­treal. It’s owned by Mo­hawk In­ter­net Tech­nolo­gies, Nor­ton said, and is cur­rently be­ing used by the on­line gam­ing in­dus­try to host the servers of many com­pa­nies.

Sev­eral other com­pa­nies have also pledged their sup­port to the mis­sion of col­lect­ing, an­a­lyz­ing and act­ing on so­cial data in the com­mu­nity: For­rest Green, a credit-re­port­ing agency; SAS Canada, an an­a­lytic soft­ware com­pany; and Black­berry, which would pro­vide se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“You can re­pur­pose the tools you use for credit re­port­ing, and you can use those tools for so­cial ser­vices,” said Mur­ray Rowe Jr., pres­i­dent of For­rest Green.

metro | Ottawa

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