A lot of private-sector data is also used for public good

Josh New in Computerworld: “As the private sector continues to invest in data-driven innovation, the capacity for society to benefit from this data collection grows as well. Much has been said about how the private sector is using the data it collects to improve corporate bottom lines, but positive stories about how that data contributes to the greater public good are largely unknown.
This is unfortunate, because data collected by the private sector is being used in a variety of important ways, including to advance medical research, to help students make better academic decisions and to provide government agencies and nonprofits with actionable insights. However, overzealous actions by government to restrict the collection and use of data by the private sector are likely to have a chilling effect on such data-driven innovation.
Companies are working to advance medical research with data sharing. Personal genetics company 23andMe, which offers its customers inexpensive DNA test kits, has obtained consent from three-fourths of its 800,000 customers to donate their genetic information for research purposes. 23andMe has partnered with pharmaceutical companies, such as Genentech and Pfizer, to advance genomics research by providing scientists with the data needed to develop new treatments for diseases like Crohn’s and Parkinson’s. The company has also worked with researchers to leverage its network of customers to recruit patients for clinical trials more effectively than through previous protocols.
Private-sector data is also helping students make more informed decisions about education. With the cost of attending college rising, data that helps make this investment worthwhile is incredibly valuable. The social networking company LinkedIn has built tools that provide prospective college students with valuable information about their potential career path, field of study and choice of school. By analyzing the education tracks and careers of its users, LinkedIn can offer students critical data-driven insights into how to make the best out of the enormous and costly decision to go to college. Through LinkedIn’s higher-education tools, students now have an unprecedented resource to develop data-supported education and career plans….(More)”