Click to learn more about author Mackenzie Thompson.
As 2018 comes to an end, now is the time to begin a new chapter concerning the life-saving power of data. Now is the time to remember not only the value of data but the many ways data informs what we value most—namely, the lives we cherish and the citizens we seek to help.
When I review a year’s worth of commentary about data, in addition to the opportunities for the year ahead, I see how quickly data expands. It is mobile in a literal sense, an application for mobile devices that teaches people how to perform Basic Life Support (BLS) or how to administer CPR. It is a portable skill. It traverses oceans and continents. It travels from America to Africa, transcending countries and uniting communities throughout the world.
It is both a form of intelligence and a means to act more intelligently. That is, data is news. It is revelatory and revolutionary, allowing us to more quickly prioritize what we need to do and where we need to do it. That fact alone saves time and money.
The fact that data spares us from making bad decisions is, well, a decisive advantage.
When data dispels popular assumptions, and enables you to popularize what is true, you can more easily justify everything from budgets and hiring to projects and projections about the growth of your organization.
Data also lets you narrow your focus without compromising your overall mission. It lets you derive the biggest benefit from assisting the biggest number of people, whose lives depend on the relief you provide, whose lives depend on life-saving provisions like food and medical supplies.
Data is, therefore, accessible. It is neither an abstraction nor a matter of academic debate. It determines the health of individuals and the collective health of individual communities at home and abroad.
The more we use data, the more effective we can be in 2019. The more we emphasize the importance of data, the more likely we are to democratize its availability in 2019.
By that standard, data is a tool of advancement.
Regardless of place, in terms of a person’s physical location, or one’s economic place in society—data is not the domain of the few. It is, rather, in the public domain. It serves the interests of the public and appeals to the masses.
Indeed, this very piece is an appeal to readers to promote data, to publicize courses that use data, to promulgate the adoption of data by experts and everyday citizens alike.
Let us work to accelerate positive change in 2019.
Let us do so with a fuller understanding of data, so we can achieve more—in more places—than when was possible in the past.
Let data be our guide to a healthier and safer world, where the greatest resources can yield the most impressive dividends.
Let 2019 be a turning point in the history of data, as well as a milestone in the progress of humankind.