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Providing social value through mobility data has been a core strategic priority for Spectus since day one. Through our Social Impact program, we provide access to our privacy-preserving data clean room for academic research and humanitarian initiatives related to human mobility.

Keep reading for a look back at our Social Impact efforts from last year, what we’re currently working on, and what’s to come in our quest to create shared value through mobility data science.

Spectus Social Impact Initiatives of 2021

Looking back, 2021 was a big year for our Social Impact program — below are three major projects we focused on last year:

1. Collaboration With the CDC

In the early days of COVID-19, Spectus began working with the CDC’s Geospatial Research, Analysis & Services Program (GRASP) to provide real-time insights into mobility in the US. By using Spectus’ aggregated and privacy-preserving Mobility Insights, the CDC is able to better understand trends in overall mobility, such as median distance traveled, sheltering in place, contact rates, and origin-destination travel. Through our collaboration, CDC researchers and our own data science team co-authored a peer reviewed article in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, on social vulnerability during the pandemic.

2. Microsoft Differential Privacy Early Adopter’s program

Since 2017, Spectus has provided academic researchers with access to its mobility-data insights in order to measure evacuation patterns during natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires. In order to provide more nuanced insights into evacuation behaviors at the census block group level, without sacrificing user privacy in the process, we are now applying true differential privacy to our evacuation datasets.  As an Early Adopter of Microsoft’s SmartNoise Accelerator program, Spectus is able to offer granular insights into evacuation patterns during natural disasters while preserving privacy in the process.

3. Studies on inequality and segregation

As Spectus seeks to advance data-driven research on social equity, multiple research groups have utilized Spectus data for studies at the nexus of inequality, mobility, and exogenous shocks, such as natural disasters. In one study of Hurricane Harvey conducted by researchers at Texas A&M’s Urban Resilience Lab, Spectus data was used to reveal unequal displacement patterns between higher and lower income communities. In another pioneering study published in the journal Nature, researchers at MIT’s Human Dynamic Lab utilized Spectus mobility data, along with census and points-of-interest data, to illustrate 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.

Our 2022 commitment to responsible data sharing for social good

Looking forward to the remainder of 2022 and beyond, Spectus is continuing to amplify its commitment to responsible data sharing for social good. In addition to providing aggregated data pro bono to the academic and research communities, we’ve also provided pro bono access to our data clean room to six leading organizations leveraging privacy-preserving mobility data for academic research and humanitarian initiatives. Composed of universities, NGOs, and multilaterals, our inaugural cohort of pro-bono researchers are exploring a variety of topics, from gentrification and economic development, to natural disaster response and social equity.

How Spectus Data Clean Room fuels social impact

Looking ahead, our Social Impact efforts are set to make a major impact in 2022 and beyond, thanks in part to rapid adoption of our data clean room platform among the research community.

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.