What is Pro Bono Analytics?
Pro Bono Analytics is a program developed by INFORMS to connect INFORMS members and other analytics professionals with nonprofit organizations working in underserved and developing communities to help them make better decisions with their data. INFORMS (The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) is the largest professional society in the world for operations research (O.R.) and analytics professionals, with over 12,500 members who apply mathematics, economics, physics and other disciplines to solving challenging problems.
The problems range widely from business to the military, healthcare, government, services and nonprofits too. For example, O.R. researchers have made the case that needle exchange programs can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS among injection drug users. Others have designed procedures that enable food banks to pick up donated food from restaurants and supermarkets and deliver them to food pantries while preserving their freshness. We have learned how to design parks in densely populated urban areas that provide greatest access to populations that need recreation.
There’s a long tradition in the O.R. field of applying analytics methods to the most difficult problems society has to offer – problems for which impact cannot be measured only in terms of profit, cost or customers served. Pro Bono Analytics has its roots in a realization that the OR/analytics profession – like medicine, engineering and statistics – has a role to play in working for the greater good, for free. The goal of Pro Bono Analytics is to enable analytics and O.R. professionals to create alliances with nonprofit organizations so that data and technology can be used to transform more lives, strengthen more communities and advocate more effectively.