Published: April 4th, 2017

ORLANDO – SAS Institute Inc. isn’t new to education initiatives or social responsibility, especially with Jim Goodnight at the helm.

With 63 SAS masters programs and 144 join certifications, it isn’t a shock that at this year’s Global Forum conference the company is highlighting the social applications of its apps. SAS announced that its SAS Visual Investigator (VI) platform on SAS Viya is being used to help disrupt crime, child abuse, and opioid addiction in North Carolina’s New Hanover County, plus a new app called GatherIQ is now available to help crowd source United Nations (UN) data.

It isn’t just corporations who have the need to figure out what to do with their data. Social workers and police departments need help too, and in the case of New Hanover County, SAS is using VI to use analytics to find similarities in various crimes to then create alerts and find patterns to better help the social workers working in the area.

“We now have a whole host of machine learning methods, data mining methods, and other neural networks – workflow that is key to the investigation process,” said Brooke Forston, marketing manager for data science and emerging tech at SAS.

The most obvious use of those capabilities comes in the form of the GatherIQ app. With this app, available on IOS in April and Android this summer, will allow UN partners to provide questions to be answered, and the data necessary to solve those questions, so that anyone can help UN task forces wherever they are in the world.

SAS provides the data and the platform, but the community will answer these questions, and help raise awareness. It’s a #Data4Good mobile app.

“The idea, as we push this corporate social responsibility, is what is it that we do well so that we can add to the world,” said I-sah Hsieh, international analytics adviser at SAS. “What if with the UN, it wasn’t just me and my team? So we announced GatherIQ.”

Hsieh points out the idea of corporate social responsibility, and what these organizations and businesses can do to help the world. Company’s like Vecima Networks, a Canadian vendor, do their part by recycling hardware and doing what they can. For larger businesses like SAS, there is the possibility for much more, as seen by these new apps and the education programs. And it all stems from Goodnight.

It all starts from the top

Goodnight is currently the head of an education taskforce with the CEOs of the Business Roundtable. There, he is focusing on helping children learn to read – an important first step in building a foundation for a knowledge-based economy. “It’s very difficult for any child to succeed if they can’t read by the end of the third grade,” said Goodnight in an interview with the Canadian press.

For corporations like SAS, it requires a culture that is involved with helping the community it plays a part in. And to get there, it starts from the top. “I think most of us CEOs of large companies like we have that responsibility. It takes the CEO to at least approve doing something like this,” said Goodnight.

That mentality has spread out throughout the entire company. SAS Canada has gotten involved with schools in Toronto to help out with technology and STEM programs, as well as with health care, where the company does a fair bit of work pro bono.

“I’d say it’s important for SAS, with our technology and our expertise to give back in certain ways, and we try and do that,” said SAS Canada President Cameron Dow. “I think GatherIQ is a really cool application from a crowd sourcing respective. It’s natural for us to take the leadership role on that front. Now that it’s launched, when I get back to Toronto, I’m looking forward to seeing how we can look at some causes and some areas that we can focus in on in Canada specifically.”