Using Data Science to Save Lives

Big data is changing the way that we make decisions. We are able to reduce risk, and transform data into intelligence and insights that can be used to optimize operations. I strongly believe that we can also use such insights in order to improve decision making strategies in areas that will make the world a better place, which is what Bayes Impact group strives to do (http://www.bayesimpact.org/). They use Data Science to save lives, utilizing the powers of big data to better communities.

One particular project that they are completing caught my attention which involves a partnership with Youth Villages. Specifically, they are helping by increasing accuracy in predicting programs and interventions that are more likely to help individual children achieve behavioural and educational success. I strongly believe that this is a great initiative, though I do have comments regarding the data available and how many factors will be considered.

Currently, the data available is the following:

1. Demographics (age, sex, race) [Which will likely correlate to program matching, though certainly cannot be solely considered]

2. Assessment info (psychosocial assessment, questionnaire, discharge, 1 yr post discharge) [Which will have a lot of really great data that could be compiled, though I am very interested to see one of these questionnaires to see the complexity of responses and how much variety exists. I would like to see statistics on accuracy and if there is a tendency for misrepresentation within these questionnaires.]

3. Follow up data (6, 12, 24 month follow-up surveys on academic performance, legal, and clinical outcomes) [Which hopefully provide an accurate means for evaluation for success]

4. Youth Villages Staff Data: education, credentials, tenure, job title, and demographics. [Another factor that adds complication, would need to attempt to see how standardized programs are and whether it is the program or educator that has the greatest impact on childhood success]

Having said all of this, if carefully implemented, this will certainly be a great initiative who results I look forward to seeing!

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