This Week in Data – May 3

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Cleaning up the oceans with data

If this doesn’t convince you of the power of data, then nothing will. Microsoft recently funded a New Zealand-based not-for-profit group that uses data to clean up ocean waste. So far, they’ve picked up enough to fill 45 shipping containers. All the waste is completely categorized in a database, informing future clean-up campaigns. The idea is that eventually, with enough information, those who access the data will be able to find out what’s causing – and how to solve – local waste problems.


“We are only limited by our imagination. If we can get an army of volunteers capturing the data, then we are in a strong situation to determine where to best place our efforts.”


Canadian lawyers are squirming. Why? Data.

This is an interesting one: Canadian lawyers working in internal legal departments say they’re under increasing pressure to monetize information. That’s all fine, but it comes under the background of the Federal Privacy Commissioner taking a much more active approach in enforcing new laws. Looks like governance is going to be a major issue in the white north for the foreseeable future…


“Businesses should not shy away from making increased use of analytics or migrating to the cloud, which can reduce expenses and provide better computational tools, says Imran Ahmad, a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto.”


Moving Australian transport into the 21st century

A new report created by the Australian state governments has recommended a framework to regulate new transport technology. Cool! If the country doesn’t do it, then Australians should be prepared to see a decline in their way of life, the report says. Uhh…not so cool. Part of this would include a massive focus on data sharing, but…sounds like the country needs to get moving quickly.


“The release of the Shifting Gears – Preparing for a Transport Revolution report points the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) toward setting nationally consistent standards and regulations for transport. This would include standards for data sharing and data privacy about what information is collected, when it should be shared, and what can be shared for forensic purposes.”


Australians are sitting on a data goldmine

So the recent Australian federal budget is balancing the books, but there’s a problem: GDP growth is coming from population increases, not productivity output. Instead, The Mandarin argues, the government should look to data simplification and collection as a way to increase productivity. This extensive pieces looks at ways data sharing can be used to save money across the economy, including social security, aged care, transport, and more.


“Consider the opportunity to invest in sharing data and using algorithms to automatically assess people’s eligibility and facilitate access in real time to preventative, responsive or supporting services.”


Facebook finally wants to make things right

Hasn’t been a great year…or several years…for Facebook. But now it wants to right its wrongs. The social network will start sharing information to figure out how posts affect democratic elections. Researchers will be able to access APIs that give access to public-facing information from profiles and posts. Here’s hoping some good comes out of it.


“Facebook didn’t get a hand in picking the researchers or projects selected — SSRC and Social Science One did that. It won’t get a say in future projects, either. (This is just the first cohort.)”


That’s our wrap for this week. Thanks for reading – we hope you found it entertaining and informational. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these articles and anything else data related! Email us anytime at!

Until next week,

Team Data Republic

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