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The Intersection of Poverty and Data: How Big and Open Data Helps and Harms People in Poverty

UPDATE: This event is sold out, but you can livestream it through Philly CAM at https://phillycam.org/livestream

Join Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance during Philly Tech Week 2016 for a symposium that explores the ways in which big/open data both helps and harms people in poverty. Cocktail reception to follow.

This event is generously hosted by Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, LLP.

Registration is required.

Conference Description

Big data and open data have immense potential to help the poor by democratizing information, targeting vital services such as healthcare and public benefits, and helping advocates tackle problems more systemically. Told through the eyes of legal aid lawyers, academics, advocates, and others who regularly see the impact of big and open data, this symposium explores the current ways that big and open data are being used to target and harm the poor, how those in the legal world are using data to have a positive impact on low-income communities, and a vision for the future all are included in the benefits of big and open data, regardless of income.

Panel 1 - How Big and Open Data Harms the Poor

Examining the crises that the poor face when data is used to harm them, this panel will discuss the negative impacts of big and open data on vulnerable, low-income people. As more entities and government organizations implement algorithms, low-income people are stripped of their access to health care, safety net supports, and employment opportunities. Those who do not participate in the electronic and structured economy are rendered invisible, making it even harder to access services. Using key issues that impact low-income people, this panel will focus on the unintended consequences of big and open data.

Panel 2 - How Big Data Can Serve People in Need

Looking at recent ways that big and open data has helped low-income people, this panel will explore how increasing access to data and using innovative strategies can significantly improve outcomes for people in poverty. As government and other data becomes more accessible to the public, and as advocates are using data more creatively, there exists potential to serve greater numbers of people in need and use data to solve most intractable problems. This panel will discuss ways that data has been used to help people in poverty, ways that the government and other stakeholders can make data more accessible, and what advocates can do to use data to help the people they serve.

Panel 3 - The Future of Big Data and its Effect on Poverty

Big Data has tremendous potential to benefit people across the country, but without standards and oversight, it could just as easily be used to harm and discriminate. Our final panel will discuss how Big Data will evolve in the future and how service providers can change with it. Panelists will predict the future of predictive analytics, profile the latest in data profiling and discriminate between new forms of discrimination. Exploring the role of government in regulating the use of big data, we'll discuss how the law must adapt to the changing environment and how advocates can guarantee accountability and transparency. Finally, we'll imagine how Big Data could transform our understanding of basic human rights.

Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads LLP
123 S. Broad Street 19109
28th Floor
Map of location



  • Community Legal Services
  • Philadelphia Legal Assistance
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