Big Mountain Data Heads to San Francisco!

Rocky Mountains

Big Mountain Data heads West to participate in a world-class Hackathon

At Big Mountain Data, we believe that we can scrutinize the big data that surrounds the phenomenon of domestic violence and family abuse to find answers to solving this hidden-in-plain-sight national tragedy. With domestic violence affecting 75 women every hour, you have big data. It’s a problem at scale.  One comment we hear consistently when we’re talking to people in the field – at every level and type of organization – is that the data is a mess, so it’s hard to tell what’s working and what’s not in the fight against domestic violence.

September’s media circus associated with the NFL Ray Rice scandal, highlighted many experts and programs around the country.  In a 5-second clip on ABC’s This Week, I discovered Police Chief Marty Sumner of High Point, NC who said:

“In the five years before we began this [program], we had 17 domestic-related homicides.  In the five years since, we’ve had only one.”  – Marty Sumner, Chief of Police, High Point  N.C.

I listened to the clip again and again.  WHAT the HELL were they doing to put up results like that?  I had to find out.

So, I wrote to them.

I received a wonderful response from the department that included two downloadable PDFs that explained High Point’s offender-focused deterrence program.  This approach was exactly the approach we wanted to focus on – offender-based strategies.  I devoured the PDFs and did further research.  Soon enough, I had some ideas of my own how we could even improve upon what they were doing, and achieve greater exposure for their success story.

So I reached out to them again.  “Can we have a conversation?”

They liked our ideas and agreed to engage with us collaboratively in an online social network to gather ideas around projects and various initiatives. I brought in outside experts, and connected with their partners.  The first project we’re engaging on together is coming up this weekend in San Francisco.

I’m (more than) pleased to announce The High Point Police Department is now included in the inaugural Hackathon for Bayes Impact, a prestigious Y Combinator-backed nonprofit that applies Data Science for Social Good.  Our project is competing with The Gates Foundation and The White House.  How cool is that?  

challenge

We are supplying four, rich datasets for the data science teams.  We are looking for one specific insight and one more general one.  As it turns out, the officers on the ground have a hunch on some key indicators that may lead to repeat domestic violence.  I choked up when Captain Tim Ellenberger said, “If we can intervene and deter the offender at the precise moment before the first arrest is made, we can prevent the cycle of violence from ever beginning.”  The data scientists will be able to see this indicator in the data.  Our second prompt is focused on the subgroup of repeat offenders and explores internal and external datasets to see what correlations exist that may identify actionable markers.

One of my favorite flicks of all times is, “The Butterfly Effect.”  I know it’s not an award-winning film, but the notion that one could go back and correct a devastating moment in history is a fantasy every victim entertains.  Behavior does not happen in a vacuum.  There are triggers, forces, and sets of circumstances that can be analyzed as discrete data sources. What used to be considered science fiction is now possible by identifying behavioral patterns that can prevent a lifetime of harm, and can even save lives.

It’s very exciting.  If Big Mountain Data closed today and this was ALL we did, I would celebrate heartily.  But, of course this is not all we’re doing. This is day one in our #fightback strategy of preventing family violence from stealing the lives and sanity of innocent victims.  We are fighting domestic violence with math and science.

Special thanks to Ian Thorpe of the United Nations who offered the very cool prize of a private tour of the United Nations in NYC to the winning data science team.  

 

 

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zuckI just watched Mark Zuckerberg do a live Q&A on Facebook.  He said a few things that I will quote:

“We’re here to connect the world… The best entrepreneurs don’t try to create a company.  They want to make a change in the world and help people… I am not a cool person.  I never tried to be cool.  I spend every day thinking how to best serve this community.”

I wake up every day and work on either Change Agents Worldwide or my new passion, Big Mountain Data. Both businesses are precisely more like “projects” (as he described Facebook was in its early years) than businesses.  Both have soulful purposes and have drawn incredible people to our mission. It’s magical to be able to wake up every day and take another step on these journeys.

I see so many founders mindf*ked over how they’re going to raise their round, tweak their MVP, secure the perfect cofounder, nail the product/market fit, get the “right” coverage, blah blah blah.

Just do it.  Build something you love.  The reward is in the work and seeing your dream unfold.  When you start racking up results from your efforts, it’s the absolute best feeling in the world. You can’t possibly predict in the beginning what your business will look like or will need over the long term.  But you can predict what will inspire passion in your team. Focus on that, and just get something out there.

You can see the whole Q&A here.