Friday, 24 May 2024
Friday, 24 May 2024

Using web data to create lasting societal change

The Bright Initiative is the brainchild of the leading web data platform Bright Data. The Bright Initiative utilizes Bright Data’s technology and expertise on a pro-bono basis to charities and non-profits, NGOs, researchers and global policymakers. 

Since 2014, Bright Data has been the market leader in the public web data collection field. It enables its customers to stay one step ahead of the competition by using automation to turn publicly available web data into structured data sets that highlight important business and organizational insights. Bright Data’s technology has served over 15,000 customers from a variety of sectors including ecommerce, finance, security and healthcare – Among them  many Fortune 500 companies. To support its rapid growth and customer base, they recently opened their second global office in New York. 

During the global upheaval of the pandemic, Bright Data’s CEO, Or Lenchner saw the potential of their technology to create lasting societal change. So, he decided to make Bright Data’s technology and expertise available to researchers, non-profits, NGOs and certain public sector organisations on a pro-bono basis. 

“When the pandemic hit in 2020, Bright Data was initially asked to work on the Sprint COVID-19 taskforce, which was led by one of Israel’s leading hospitals, Assuta, as well as businesses such as AWS, to find more efficient ways to learn more about the pandemic based on initial information shared by China and Italy. During the early days of the pandemic, we had to think outside the box – and this included using public web data. Within 24 hours, we were able to provide crucial web data that helped create the medical protocols in regards to  remote diagnoses. Since then, The Bright Initiative has been growing steadily,” says Lenchner. 

Going from strength to strength 

The Bright Initiative was formally established a year later, in April 2021. Today, it has over 500 hand-selected partners, including universities across more than 160 cities globally. In addition to Bright Data’s technology, the partners have access to around-the-clock support from a dedicated team as well as the company’s vast knowledge base. 

Senior Bright Data executive and former journalist Keren Pakes has been leading The Bright Initiative from the beginning. She holds a dual role in the company, as both VP of brand marketing and communications and general manager of The Bright Initiative. For Keren, using data to drive positive change in the world is a given. “Whether tackling climate change or social issues, we want to use web data to drive positive change wherever possible. 

  

The Bright Initiative in numbers

  • Founded in 2021 
    • Pro-bono access to data collection technology and vast expertise for over 500global members 
  • 7 dedicated team members, including 2 specialist engineers
  • 24/7 support 
  • 160+ university partners

 

Success stories 

Improving public safety

Organisations tackling child exploitation and human trafficking were some of the first to approach The Bright Initiative for help. Israeli non-profit ELEM, which protects at-risk youth, has been working with The Bright Initiative to develop a unique machine learning system, which is based on the social media public profiles of previous victims, to identify teenage victims of intrafamilial abuse. This information enables ELEM to contact victims – who would normally not speak out – to offer them support

Similarly, US-based non-profit Human Trafficking Initiative Labs (HTI Labs) uses Bright Data’s technology to identify potential trafficking networks within the sex and human trafficking circles. HTI Labs then shares the high-risk cases identified with law enforcement partners. 

Mitigating the impact of the climate crisis

“Climate change is the greatest challenge currently facing humanity. We must use all the resources at our disposal to mitigate the damage, including public web data,” says Or Lenchner. To advance this The Bright Initiative has partnered with UK-based start-up accelerator Subak, which funds and scales organisations using technology and environmental science to push forward behaviour and policy change. 

The Bright Initiative offers Subak’s start-ups direct access to Bright Data’s technology as well as ongoing support and expertise. “Our work with Subak means we can provide innovators with the data they need to make their ideas a reality,” adds Lenchner. “Based on our work with commercial customers, we understand how powerful the insights drawn from public web data can be. There is significant value in replicating this model to mitigate the impact of the climate of crisis.”

Promoting responsible data

 One of the fundamental pillars of The Bright Initiative is promoting responsible data use as well as supporting new valuable initiatives. “This demands close collaboration between the public, private, and third sectors,” says Lenchner. The Bright Initiative is currently supporting the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as it implements the country’s National Data Strategy (NDS) – which will transform the UK into a world-leading data economy while building public confidence in data use. 

As part of its apolitical work with the DCMS, The Bright Initiative has facilitated multiple discussions between business leaders and senior government officials, sharing insights on data markets and skills needs.

Giving a lending hand to academia

The Bright Initiative work has also extended its offerings to support universities around the world – including Kings College London and ETH Zürich. The Bright Initiative provides hands-on workshops and data focused masterclasses  to introduce students to the world of web data with a focus on professional enhancement, innovation and ethical considerations. 

For students who want to pursue a career in this industry, The Bright Initiative offers internships designed which provides them with the foundations to help them build a career in the data domain. “As leaders in the web data space, it’s our responsibility to inspire and support the next generation of talent where possible,” says Lenchner. “In terms of career progression, there are an abundance of opportunities for students to develop their skills and try out different roles but above all, there is the chance to make a positive impact on the world. It’s vital that students who are considering their future career are informed of these opportunities to create a strong and diverse pipeline of future talent.” 

The Bright Initiative also supports university researchers from institutions around the world including SciencesPo, Princeton and Oxford. Their areas of study include broadband coverage, network traffic interference by nation states, online discrimination and more – publicly available data forms the backbone of this research. 

What’s in store for The Bright Initiative?

According to Pakes, “It might sound strange, given that we already have more than 500 partners on board, but this is just the beginning for The Bright Initiative. We are about to launch a new academy and are working hard behind the scenes to create some new opportunities for our partners and build on the work we’ve done so far. So, watch this space!” 

Learn more about The Bright Initiative and the leading web data collection platform, Bright Data, here: https://brightinitiative.com/ 

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