Using data for good with GatherIQ


This conference has been one of my best because I’ve learned about GatherIQ, a social, good cause initiative that’s made me think about the bigger picture, and how I can help people who need help,” said a SAS Global Forum attendee who heard about SAS’ new data-for-good crowdsourcing app at Opening Session.

If you're like this SAS user and want to use your data skills to make a difference, GatherIQ is the answer. This app brings together the power of SAS software, the talents of everyday problem-solvers like you, and the life-saving causes of nonprofits around the world. Simply download the app, choose a GatherIQ project, and you’re part of a community of volunteers who are all digging into data for good.

Interested conference attendees sat down with I-sah Hsieh and Susan Ellis from SAS, along with Brian Kelly from the International Organization on Migration (IOM) to learn more.

(L to R) Susan Ellis, SAS, Brian Kelly, IOM and I-sah Hsieh, SAS, talked to conference attendees about GatherIQ, SAS' new data for good crowdsourcing app.

“In a disaster, organizations on the front lines are so busy trying to save lives that data analysis is one of the first things put aside,” said Hsieh. “We’re trying to find ways to help them make the most informed actions possible.”

“As a representative of the UN Migration Agency, we don’t have a choice as to whether or not we respond to need,” said Kelly. “Sometimes we do it adequately, sometimes inadequately. Sometimes informed, sometimes uninformed. To have access to highly-skilled people who share concerns about similar issues is a really great opportunity. Your efforts work together to reach people who don’t have a voice, representation, lobbyists, or other ways to make their lives better.”

“The greatest value of this project to IOM is that our issues are being shared with a group of people who have skillsets we don’t normally interact with,” said Kelly. “Our primary focus of this project is answering ‘Where do we need to have stuff that helps people?’”

An energetic discussion ensued, including several questions and answers highlighted below:

What is the project about?

We want to be able to understand migration data, such as the casualties of migration, the length of time it takes to get from one location to another, supply chain insight, where stockpiles and goods should be distributed, where the perils are, etc.

Do you need to be able to code to help?

No. Everyone can be a connector. You may know people who speak other languages, are located in different parts of the world, or know of unique expertise or resources. The project also needs people who can help build awareness of it. Anyone willing to share the app and the project on social offers huge value.

Some reports and datasets are already present in the app. Is there any way to get to the actual data?

The data resides on the IOM website. There is a link to it from the FAQ on the app, and after hearing how important this was to users Hsieh offered to make the link more evident.

Are you open to new datasets?

Yes. One of the biggest benefits of crowdsourcing is finding relevant new datasets that will shed new insight and help the IOM learn more about the population. Users were encouraged to provide a link to that information in the comments.

Is the need mainly for standardized data or is freeform also beneficial?

The initial need is for standardized data – i.e., roughly how many are on the move, roughly what are their essential needs? Then as households and families begin to return, more qualitative data is necessary.

Are there ways to contribute even if I don’t have a lot of time?

Yes. One example is to verify someone else’s contribution. Another would be suggesting specific missing values or fields in a current visual display and inviting people to contribute suggestions as to where that data might be found.

Are there resources for downloading SAS on my home computer for this purpose?

Download the SAS® University Edition, free to any learner. With SAS University Edition, you get SAS Studio, Base SAS, SAS/STAT, SAS/IML, SAS/ACCESS and several time series forecasting procedures from SAS/ETS.

Can I share this project in social channels?

Yes, that’s an important part of building awareness and increasing the number of contributors.

Is there a website for this project, or just an app?

The app is available now. A website is being created, but is not available yet.

Is the app available on Android?

Availability on Android is expected this summer.

If we have an idea for an app enhancement, how should we share that information?

If there is something that would be useful to you in the app, please share that feedback in the comments section.

At the end of the session, Hsieh challenged everyone to download the app and make a contribution by Monday, April 10. That seems like a good challenge for all.


About Author

Becky Graebe

Director, Communications

In addition to traditional employee communication efforts at SAS, Becky Graebe oversees an award-winning global intranet and a variety of enterprise social media channels. Her goal is to create a working environment where SAS employees around the world feel connected and inspired to share fresh ideas, solutions and expertise with colleagues and customers. Having studied at Southern Methodist University and earned her degree from Stetson University, she now serves on the Employee Communications Section board for the National Public Relations Society of America, is an active member of Triangle Women in Communications, and volunteers with Citizen Schools and the Wake County Support Circle Program.


  1. Thank you for sharing this post Becky! I also was pleased to hear about Gather IQ. It's a wonderful initiative! I was wondering, if there was a mailing list that I can join so that I know when Gather IQ is available on the Android please? I would like to get more involved with this initiative.

    Many thanks,

    Kriss Harris.

    • Becky Graebe on

      Hi, Kriss.

      Thanks for your enthusiasm for the GatherIQ project. We're really excited about what can be accomplished when so many brilliant minds and ideas come together. Glad to know you'll be among them. The best way to stay in the know about the release of the Android app, as well as overall progress for the project, is to subscribe to the Data for Good blog topic. In the navigation bar at the top of this page, select "Subscribe." On the resulting page, select "Subscribe to Topics" then "Data For Good." We'll make sure to post an update when the Android app is available and will let everyone know where we're seeing progress and any unique needs. You'll receive an email when that post publishes. Thanks again for your interest, Kriss.


    • Hello Kriss,

      The GatherIQ app is now available on three platforms: Apple, Android and on the web. We're excited for our upcoming release in first quarter of 2019 which will offer several new features based on feedback we've received. Thank you!

  2. Sultana Ferdous on

    How do I contribute to a project on GatherIQ? Do I have to make an account? What is the procedure?
    Thank you for your help.

    • Thank you for your interest in contributing to GatherIQ, Sultana. The easiest way to help the nonprofit partners with their mission is to post your recommendations on Twitter @GatherIQ. Recommendations could be based on the data and visualizations currently in GatherIQ or other ideas. Or simply sharing information about the issues the nonprofit organization are addressing by sharing on social media is a big help too. A future release of GatherIQ will include a way to capture the communities input directly in the GatherIQ app which will be shared with our partners. For further questions, feedback or recommendations, please send us an email at We look forward to corresponding with you more!

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