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Social Impact

Powering research & academic teams globally

As a pioneer of the “Data for Good” movement, Spectus drives positive social impact through the ethical and responsible use of location-based data.

Beyond simply providing data, the Spectus platform supports scientific inquiry, provides policy makers with actionable insights, and fosters innovation ecosystems around data equity and privacy.

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Academic Researchers

Spectus takes the pain out of preprocessing mobility data letting us get straight to answering our research questions

Human mobility research made easy

Historically, performing analyses with location and mobility data was a painful and lengthy process that required in-depth industry knowledge, a sophisticated development space, and a significant amount of time for research, development, and redundant data processing. Beyond technical obstacles, many institutions must reconcile research objectives with strict privacy and ethics requirements.

Spectus Data Clean Room is a location intelligence platform that enables you to innovate, customize, and analyze location data in a privacy-centric environment. Thus, accelerating your path to research, insights, and results. For more on developing with Spectus, see our architecture advantages here.

Featured research and use cases

MIT’s Atlas of Inequality

Segregation leads to negative health, educational, and economic outcomes for society as a whole. However, most studies on segregation in cities are at the neighborhood level, which fails to capture the intricacies of how communities move and interact throughout the day. By utilizing Spectus mobility data, along with census and points-of-interest data, MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab created the Atlas of Inequality, which illustrates how people from different income segments interact within public and commercial venues. Through a more nuanced understanding of place-based inequality, MIT’s research provides new methods and insights for city planners and policymakers looking to create more equitable public spaces.

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Evacuation mapping

When natural disasters strike, it is critical for emergency managers to gain situational awareness into whether communities shelter in place, evacuate, or become permanently displaced. Spectus mobility data provides an empirical and privacy-preserving view of evacuation behaviors, powering research at leading institutions such as Cornell University, Texas A&M, University of Maryland, University of Delaware, and the World Bank. Beyond generating descriptive analyses, researchers at the University of Washington have also developed machine-learning models to predict the likelihood of evacuations at a neighborhood level, providing unprecedented insight for disaster preparedness efforts.

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To view an interactive web app on differentially private evacuation rates, click here.

Participatory infrastructure planning

In many developing regions across the world, public transportation infrastructure is insufficient to meet user demand, and private transportation options can be too expensive, overcrowded, and even dangerous. By overlaying Spectus Mobility data with crowdsourced maps of Maputo, Mozambique, researchers at Politecnico di Milano are able to demonstrate where public transit supply falls short of demand. By working with community based organizations that crowdsource mapping data through inclusive and participatory design practices, Politecnico di Milano also demonstrates the synergetic effects of combining big-data with more traditional data collection practices.

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COVID-19 Response

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, eviction moratoria helped keep millions of Americans in their homes. As policy makers debated how long to maintain the moratoria, researchers at Northeastern University and the University of Pennsylvania developed models to predict the effects of evictions on COVID-19 spread. By incorporating Spectus mobility data into their models, the researchers were able to demonstrate that evictions could lead to increased transmission of the virus not only among those directly affected by evictions, but also in the general population, as well.

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Spectus is proud to be involved with Open Differential Privacy & Smartnoise Technology innovations. As an Early Adopter of Microsoft’s SmartNoise Accelerator program, Spectus is applying true Differential Privacy to its humanitarian data products. By leveraging Differential Privacy, Spectus is able to offer granular insights into evacuation patterns during natural disasters, without sacrificing the privacy of individual users who entrust Spectus with their data.

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For more on the OpenDP initiative, click here.

Spectus is life changing for researchers

Creating shared value with data

In order to create sustained impact over the long term, Spectus takes a hybrid approach to data philanthropy and creating shared value for society and the research community:

  • We provide pro-bono access to turn-key aggregated datasets for qualified academic research and humanitarian initiatives.
  • We provide at-cost access to our data clean room, offering privacy-preserving mobility solutions for customized research and needs.
  • We allocate a limited number of pro-bono accounts to our data clean room, for select organizations creating profound social impact, and developing innovative open-source solutions for the geospatial community.

Interested in partnering with Spectus for your academic or research project?

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