Policy by the Numbers

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This Week in Data: 11/30/2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

  • A new report from Nesta, "Rise of the Datavores," looks at data-driven decisionmaking among a group of UK businesses. The paper "illustrates both the opportunities and challenges that online data presents for UK businesses."

  • An article in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday introduced us to Amanda Hubbard, who is about to lose access to data generated by the heart defibrillator implant in her chest because of regulations around health data. Hubbard currently gets information on the device via her doctor, but is on the verge of losing her insurance. However, the manufacturer of the implant, Medtronic, cannot provide data from the implant directly to Hubbard. From the article:
    Medtronic says federal rules prohibit giving Ms. Hubbard's data to anyone but her doctor and hospital. "Our customers are physicians and hospitals," said Elizabeth Hoff, general manager of Medtronic's data business. Medtronic would need regulatory approval to give patients the data, she said. It hasn't sought approval because "we don't have this massive demand."
  • Over on Harvard Business Review blogs, NYU ITP professor and New York Times Data Artist in Residence Jeff Thorp turns a critical eye to the overused "data is the new oil" metaphor, and urges us re-frame data in a human context. Part of making data more human means engaging the artistic community in data-driven culture. "As we proceed towards profit and progress with data, let us encourage artists, novelists, performers and poets to take an active role in the conversation," he writes. "In doing so we may avoid some of the mistakes that we made with the old oil."

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