(US and Canada) CDO Magazine and EDM Council congratulate Greater DC Diaper Bank and IBM for winning the inaugural 2022 Data4Good Award for the exemplary use of data in the category of no poverty. Carrie Fassett, Director of Partnerships & Impact at Greater DC Diaper Bank, along with Carlo Appugliese, AI and Machine Learning Director, Client Engineering IBM, and Aakanksha Joshi, Senior Data Scientist at IBM, speak with Michael Fillios, Founder and CEO, IT Ally and CDO Magazine Editorial Board Member, in a video interview about leveraging data to tackle poverty, data fabric, the impact of work in society, and the role of data governance moving forward.
Fassett begins by addressing the diaper need, which she says is a direct product of poverty. She explains that by using data efficiently, the Greater DC Diaper Bank can distribute 10 million diapers in the D.C. area. According to Fassett, efficiency and smartness come with understanding the importance of data from the beginning. This impetus led to the Diaper Bank’s work with IBM.
The bank focuses on families experiencing poverty and works with more than 75 nonprofit partners to distribute diapers. Each family gets $34 worth of products. Appugliese shares that IBM is helping organizations become sustainable with a cross-functional, diverse team of data scientists and solution engineers focused on keeping AI responsible. Appugliese also mentions applying statistical languages using machine learning, adding that the interactive map helps visualize the diaper need in the D.C. area.
Joshi points out that creating a data fabric that combines data from multiple open-source systems with the Diaper Bank’s in-house data has built a holistic view.
Highlighting the project, Fassett notes that the tool allows tackling the problem at the hyper-local stage by measuring the gaps in delivering diapers. With this project, the bank has been able to talk with elected officials about ending the diaper need in their jurisdiction, she says.
Fassett is hopeful about the tool being scalable and concurs that IBM has started working with the National Diaper Bank Network to scale it.
According to Fassett, being data-centric from the beginning and having a C-suite supportive of data has helped. The core data principles the National Diaper Bank follows around data include:
Data collection should never be a barrier to a family or partner while receiving services or products.
Efficiency is important.
Equity is intrinsic throughout the data collection and analysis process.
Transparency: The bank believes in sharing data with the community.
Balance the diaper bank’s data needs with those of the funders.
Next, Appugliese discusses the human-centered approach around data and AI. He emphasizes that at IBM, it is not just about AI but about AI with humans.
The technology-driven decisions must be transparent, explainable, not biased, and governed, says Appugliese. He explains that IBM aims to be a responsible steward of technology by considering the ethics and impact of technology before deploying them.
Fassett mentions that collecting and using data in a tool to go hyper-local and engage families is critical. She urges people not to be scared of AI but to use it as a fundamental tool in this fight against poverty.
Focusing on data governance, Appugliese reflects on the potential ethical issues with AI that demand attention. He states that enterprises must take action regarding bias in data privacy concerns and common challenges.
In conclusion, Joshi maintains that trust is the center of everything in governance, from trust in data, models, and pre-processing to model development and deployment of the end-to-end process. She believes that the fairness embedded in it brings forth responsible, ethical and trustworthy AI for everyone.
CDO Magazine appreciates Carrie Fassett, Carlo Appugliese, and Aakanksha Joshi for sharing insights and data success stories from Greater DC Diaper Bank and IBM with our global community.