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Using Behavioral Big Data for Public Purposes: Exploring Frontier Issues of an Emerging Policy Arena

That’s title of a report Sriganesh Lokanathan and I completed for the New Venture Fund. Here is an extract from the executive summary.

Much of the discussion of the socio-economic implications of behavioral data has focused on the inclusion of more citizens and more aspects of their lives within the sphere of control enabled by pervasive data collection. Effective public policy rests on good information about problems and the efficacy of the deployed solutions. Governments obtained such information through National Statistical Organizations (NSOs) in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The modality in the 21st Century is the analysis of Big Data. Big Data will supplement old methods. It will also make it possible to have a fine-grained understanding that was not hitherto possible. The negligible incremental costs of analysis will make it possible to obtain insights more frequently, and even to conduct policy experiments.

This report explores privacy issues at the frontiers of research on and applications of behavioral big data for public purposes. It examines marginalization or exclusion from the scope of data collection. It also examines poverty/wealth mapping, including redlining, and the identification of regular and ad hoc congregations. In addition, it presents the state of the art on technical means used to mask PII in big data sets.

Reports. Please see second item under Papers, Reports, & Publications.

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