SAS unites data power with crowd power to solve global humanitarian challenges

Crowdsourcing initiative to help International Organization for Migration address migrant crisis

With limited resources, humanitarian and nonprofit organizations that house massive stores of data often lack the capacity to apply it to solve global crises. GatherIQ presents an answer. The innovative crowdsourcing project from analytics leader SAS puts analytics in the public’s hands to address world problems. The first GatherIQ project is with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). SAS and IOM are asking the public to help analyze data to better understand the dangers migrants face.

Each year, thousands of migrants go missing or die on their way to making new lives for themselves and their families. IOM estimates a count surpassing more than 63,000 victims from 2000 to 2016. The GatherIQ mobile app poses critical questions about the migrant crisis that IOM needs help analyzing. GatherIQ surfaces extensive data from IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, including demographics, migrant routes and locations.

Participants in the GatherIQ community will gain access to SAS® Visual Analytics interactive reports via the mobile app, where they can explore relevant visualizations. They can post insights to the community that they believe address the questions, share observations and work together to validate one another’s results.

The mobile app also makes it easy to share insights across social media – not only to bring attention to the crisis but to attract 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.

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

Interested users can download GatherIQ from Apple’s App Store®. It will also be available on Android and as a web app in the near future.

Use data for good, learn marketable skills

Through GatherIQ, SAS will collaborate with select nonprofit organizations to help them learn more from their data. Each project will encourage individuals to contribute their time, knowledge and analytic skills to help solve humanitarian, educational and environmental issues facing the global community.

“To everyone who wants to help solve complex global challenges, but doesn’t know where to start: GatherIQ is your chance,” said I-Sah Hsieh, SAS Global Manager for International Development. “We want the public to help us in our mission to improve the world with analytics and data. You don’t have to be a data scientist. Just have a curious mind and a desire to help humanity.”

And while they’re helping to improve understanding of humanitarian crises, community members are also learning how to explore data using the latest data visualization tools. The ability to analyze data to uncover new insights is a highly sought skill in today’s economy. GatherIQ offers opportunities to integrate data visualization and analysis into research projects and educational coursework.

“We encourage teachers, professors and students to integrate this project into their learning and research,” said Hsieh. “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.”

SAS and IOM wield data for good

The humanitarian collaboration between SAS and IOM has already helped modernize disaster response. Following Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation of the Philippines in 2013, SAS analyzed data from IOM shelters to target relief efforts and identify the most critical health problems. For instance, IOM could see on a map which shelters had a dangerous combination of overcrowding, bad drinking water and problems with solid waste disposal. IOM could also quickly pinpoint sites that had a high number of families living in makeshift shelters. Both results enabled IOM to direct services and resources where needs were greatest.

In 2015, SAS again worked with IOM to address life-threatening needs in the wake of the Nepal earthquake. With the monsoon season approaching, SAS analyzed 300 million rows of global trade data to quickly identify sources for tin roofing. IOM immediately ordered 310,000 sheets and provided shelter to 45,000 displaced Nepalese families.

“SAS and IOM have proven the value of analytics and data visualization to help bring hope to the hopeless,” said Doyle. “The public’s involvement will increase that value exponentially.”

Today's announcement was made at SAS Global Forum, the world's largest analytics conference, with more than 30,000 business and IT users of SAS software participating on-site and online.

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GatherIQ's interactive visualizations allow users to investigate critical questions and share insights with fellow community members. (click image for full size version)