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Can Your Web App Change the World?

Can Your Web App Change the World?

Photo by Raphael Rychetsky on Unsplash

Heck Yeah! And I’m not talking about a haphazard cause and effect, like butterflies starting hurricanes 20,000 kilometers away. I’m talking about making concerted efforts and affecting change. Something that I know you can do!

“Collecting data on poverty is expensive — it costs US$2 million to run a household survey, and the national statistical and data systems in [developing] countries aren’t as sophisticated” 
Mr. Tariq Khokhar, Managing Director and Senior Data Scientist of the Rockefeller Foundation

Let’s put our data science and web apps to good use. Let’s bring data science to all four corners of the globe. 

We’re all Domain Experts

Your expertise is as unique as your fingerprints. Nobody can take that away from you. It’s your super-power! It is based on your age, your experiences, your surroundings, your mentors, your vision of the world, etc.

But that’s also the problem. Because nobody can take it away, nobody can learn from it either — and unless you make that concerted effort, it will all go to waste. This is your call to shine.

Challenge a Problem

You are smart. You hang around educational and knowledge gathering circles. You probably know your way around a few data sets and have spent some time challenging problems around you, around your community, even communities you’ve seen during your travels or your research. If you can think it up and create a Jupyter notebook of it, you can just as easily share it with the world as a web application using Flask and the myriad of other templates and libraries. These tools are all waiting to be part of your next masterpiece.

Let’s Talk Agriculture as an Example

This is an extremely important domain. It’s an area best disrupted at the local level as every aspect of it, whether problem or solution, is unique to its location. 

  • We have incredible weather forecasting data sets — can you think of a way to apply it towards a particular challenge? 
  • What about all those open-source communication tools, could those be embedded into local communities with customized UIs so farmers can report infestations, hacks, remedies, requests for help, etc? 
  • What about financial data from exchanges around the world, could that be applied towards actionable insights to forecasts field use, changes in crop yield, energy utilization, hedging costs? 
  • What about land imagery analysis whether from satellite, google maps, drone footage, etc. Can you think of a good neural network that would help identify under or overutilized land plots?

Drones in Farming

Talking about drones, they’re making a huge impact on small to medium-sized farmers. For example, drones are used by credit lending in precision farmers. 

“MicroSave is working on a data-based model where each farmer is profiled based on the specific farms which is used to map services that farmers can access such as mobile access to insurance, credit and tailored information.” MicroSave

There’s going to be a lot of work for data scientists in and around this domain. Some will be on creating autonomous drones for specific tasks but most will be around analyzing the footage from these UAVs and extracting new intelligence. This will undoubtedly lead to higher food yields, precision farming, land surveilling and surveillance, etc. So let’s all put our thinking caps on and get to work.