Personal Data For Public Good

Robert Kirkpatrick (United Nations), Jane Yakowitz (Brooklyn Law School), Bill Hoffman (World Economic Forum)
Location: Westside Ballroom Level:

Personal data is a an exploding asset class that is currently not being leveraged to inform public policy decisions or mitigate risk. This panel, sponsored by United Nations Global Pulse, will examine the value of private sector data and consider some of the challenges inherent its use.

Photo of Robert Kirkpatrick

Robert Kirkpatrick

United Nations

Robert Kirkpatrick is Director of the UN Global Pulse initiative in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General.

Robert designs and applies technology for crisis resilience and organizational change. He has spent more than 15 years creating software and the past 10 developing tools for public health, disaster relief, security coordination, citizen journalism, telemedicine, crisis monitoring, conflict mediation, and civil-military cooperation. His work with industry partners, government agencies, and humanitarian organizations has explored ways that techno-social innovation may enhance trust-building, information sharing, and joint decision making across boundaries and lower barriers to organizational change. He is a strong proponent of open data, open standards, open source software, and participatory development.

Robert co-founded and led software development for two pioneering private-sector humanitarian technology teams, first at Groove Networks, and later as Lead Architect for Microsoft Humanitarian Systems. In 2003, Robert worked in Baghdad to improve coordination between coalition forces and Iraqi government ministries. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Robert provided on-site technology support to civil and military responders. Following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, Robert supported relief organizations in the disaster-affected areas designing tools for data collection and logistics. He participated in two missions in Afghanistan (2006, 2007) prototyping tools to improve situational awareness for NGOs involved in telemedicine and local capacity building. From 2007-2009 he served as CTO of the nonprofit InSTEDD, where he help to establish the first public health innovation lab, or iLab, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He now sits on InSTEDD’s Board of Directors.

Jane Yakowitz

Brooklyn Law School

Jane Yakowitz is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Brooklyn Law School. She received a B.S. in mathematics and a J.D. from Yale. Her research interests include privacy law, the legal profession, and empirical legal studies. She previously served as the Director of Project SEAPHE (Scale and Effects of Admissions Preferences in Higher Education) at UCLA School of Law, where she conducted peer-reviewed research on admissions, academic performance, and labor outcomes for law school applicants. Professor Yakowitz has negotiated complex public records disclosures and has prepared large de-identified databases for public release. These experiences inform her research on data privacy law.

Photo of Bill Hoffman

Bill Hoffman

World Economic Forum

William Hoffman heads the World Economic Forum’s Telecommunications
Industry Group, where he supports a global community of industry partners
in addressing some of the world’s most pressing economic, social and
environmental challenges. One of his primary areas of focus is leading a
global initiative entitled Rethinking Personal Data. This multi-year
project is designed to catalyze action and shared understandings on how to
shape a personal data ecosystem that crates opportunities for both social
and economic value creation as well as protecting the rights of

Prior to joining the World Economic Forum, William was the Director of
Enterprise Marketing at AT&T. With broad experience in the communications
industry, he has an extensive background with the adoption of emerging
technologies, data analysis and strategic planning.

William holds degrees from Syracuse University as well as the University of


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