BT crowdsources ideas on how to frame big data 'for social good'

BT is actively exploring how digital technology can fast-track efforts to progress sustainable consumption through more effective curation of big data.

BT is looking into the development of standards for using data for social good purposes. Pic: BT

BT is looking into the development of standards for using data for social good purposes. Pic: BT

The telecommunications giant held its second Better Future Forum earlier this month, a follow up from last year's event in which hundreds of experts from the fields of behavioural economics, digital innovation and sustainable business partake in an online brainstorming session. Scroll down for video.

According to BT's chief sustainability officer Niall Dunne, BT is looking into the development of standards for using data for social good purposes, given that the landscape for big data is still forming with no clear leaders or best practices yet.

He also pointed to the fact that people cannot benefit from big data if they are excluded from the connected society. There is growing concern among business leaders that digital inequality within both developed and developing countries is creating chasms that cannot be easily crossed.

A statement issued by BT following the Better Future Forum event said: "There is a need for greater collaboration across all organisations to open up and share their data to enable social good at scale. On a macro level the knowledge of big data analytics is not being universally shared with people and organisations addressing our most pressing sustainability challenges."

One key message that emerged from the forum was that digital technology can be an enabler in changing behaviours towards more sustainable lifestyles. Firstly, it can simplify the deluge of data for people and curate it in a human way which is personalised and aligned with their values.

Secondly, it can create a more trusting context for change through increasing transparency. Transparency is a necessary condition for positive behaviour change as it builds credibility for organisations to support social impacts.

Digital technology can also deliver value which is shared and experienced rather than owned. If the sharing economy is taken as an example, it can reduce consumption at scale, with potential for emerging economies to leapfrog western consumption to a more sustainable footing.

A full report on the Better Future Forum insights will be published later this month.

Maxine Perella


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