Big Data

SAS crowdsourcing app seeks to solve the migrant crisis while teaching data science skills

A new app from SAS called GatherIQ uses crowdsourcing to gather information and analyze data to help solve the migrant crisis. Here's how it works.

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Image: iStockphoto/Harvepino

Analytics firm SAS wants to use crowdsourcing and data to solve global humanitarian challenges. Its new app GatherIQ, announced at the SAS Global Forum 2017 in Orlando, FL, puts analytics in the hands of the public to address world problems, starting with the migrant crisis.

Thousands of migrants go missing or die on their journey each year, with an estimated 63,000 victims between 2000 and 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Here's how the app can help: First, users read about the issue. Then, the app asks questions about the migrant crisis that the IOM needs assistance analyzing. Using data visualizations and information from the IOM's Missing Migrants Project (including demographics, migrant routes, and locations), users can see patterns and trends take shape. Then, users can post any insights they gain to the GatherIQ community, to share observations and work as a team to validate one another's results, according to the app's website.

Users can also easily share their insights on social media platforms to both bring attention to the crisis and draw others to the GatherIQ effort. "IOM will harness the power of the crowd to better understand what is really happening to these migrants and how the organization can help them," a press release stated.

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"The migrant crisis continues unabated. By better understanding the risks facing these people, we can do more to protect them," said IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle in a press release. "The more people we have analyzing the data and contributing to solutions, the more likely we are to save lives."

SAS plans to use GatherIQ to collaborate with more nonprofit organizations to help them gain new insights from their data, and to encourage citizens to use analytics to help solve global problems, according to the press release.

"We want the public to help us in our mission to improve the world with analytics and data," said I-Sah Hsieh, SAS global manager for international development, in the press release. "You don't have to be a data scientist. Just have a curious mind and a desire to help humanity."

GatherIQ also allows users to integrate data visualization and analysis into research projects and educational coursework, to better help individuals gain needed tech skills for future jobs, the release stated.

SEE: Life, disrupted: Dispatches from a refugee crisis in the digital age (CNET)

"We encourage teachers, professors and students to integrate this project into their learning and research," said Hsieh in the release. "Today's students want to make a difference in the world. With GatherIQ, they also gain data analysis experience that will help fill the looming data skills gap."

This effort is not the first collaboration between SAS and IOM, the release noted: After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in 2013, SAS analyzed data from IOM shelters to target relief efforts and identify the most critical health problems facing the area. The company also worked with IOM after the 2015 Nepal earthquake, analyzing global trade data to identify sources for tin roofing to protect citizens during the impending monsoon season.

GatherIQ is available for download in Apple's App Store, and will soon be available on Android and as a web app.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. At SAS Global Forum 2017, SAS unveiled a new app called GatherIQ that combines data and crowdsourcing to help solve global humanitarian problems, starting with the migrant crisis.

2. GatherIQ allows users to analyze data from the International Organization for Migration to identify patterns and trends, and post insights on a community page to help the IOM learn new information.

3. SAS said it plans to use GatherIQ to collaborate with more nonprofits to help them gain new insights from their data, and to encourage citizens to to use analytics to help solve global problems, according to the press release.

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About Alison DeNisco

Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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