In the Next Federal Election Big Data Will Make the Difference

Shared on April 04, 2015 by The Huffington Post

This year marks the 42nd Canadian federal election. In the current political context, it is generally understood that information is power.

According to the managing editor of Harvard Magazine, Jonathan Shaw, in his recent article: "Why Big Data is a Big Deal," with all of our digitally connected tools (from cell phones, social media assets, sensor equipped trains and cars), more data has been collected worldwide in the past two years than what has been collected in the past 5,000 years combined -- this enormous quantity of information contributes to what we know as Big Data.*

However, this data is only made powerful when it can be properly cultivated, analyzed and shared with people who can take that information and make it actionable. This reality is important for decision-makers running the country, for political parties, as well as for our youth voters, among others.

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Efforts to support this process are now under way, with several companies -- including the Toronto-based startup ThinkDataWorks, and my own Ottawa-based mobile startup, PlayMC2 -- which are exploring how to track and maximize the value of open and dynamic data.

Ultimately, as far as civic participation is concerned, very little of the dynamic data collected or analyzed about Millennial engagement in Canada will matter if young people remain disenfranchised from the electoral process.

In the next federal election, the final indicator as to whether or not we've used the power of Big Data effectively is if our collection, analysis and leadership in creating authentic voter engagement strategies successfully get young people to the polling stations.

*Big Data is defined here as bridging traditional quantitative data sets -- like census data collected by our governments -- with previously unquantifiable, qualitative information -- like social media updates -- produced by masses of people interacting with one another across various technologically enabled tools.

Checkout the full article on The Huffington Post.

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