Extract from the Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance & Banking, January 2014 written by Sonal Shah, a Senior Fellow at the Case Foundation and a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University and Hollie Russon Gilman, a Democracy Fellow at Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School. Subscribers can view the full article in the January edition.

Despite the enormous possibility, data doesn’t substitute for judgment. We need principles of responsibility to guide the use of big data—by social sector, government, and of course by companies. We know that when big data is not used properly and understood within context, results can lead to bad decision-making and unfairly targeting individuals, communities, and families. Ultimately, big data in the social sector holds the promise and opportunity to have a large impact. However, we must proceed carefully with real principles. It is time to have a real conversation about not just opportunities, but responsible use.