By Katherine Tang
Data is enormously powerful. Data can enable immense good, such as providing accurate COVID-19 exposure tracking and alerts in the midst of a global pandemic and helping federal agencies distribute supplies and aid to communities affected by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Ida. However, when used maliciously or even irresponsibly, data can be used to undermine personal safety and the public interest. Stalkers can use data to track an individual’s precise location at any given time, and data can be leveraged to spread false ideas, which then have the potential to incite violence.
Preventing pernicious uses of data is the shared responsibility of government entities, private companies, and data consumers. If we, as a company and as a society, fail to set standards and hold ourselves accountable, it will make it more difficult to reduce or prevent harmful uses of data in the future. We need to begin setting standards and norms for data usage now, for a future where data use will help contribute to the prosperity of humanity.
At Geosite, our executive leadership team – and our entire staff – are committed to building a company where our culture and mission advance the public good. That includes recognizing our responsibilities as a software company pioneering the use of geospatial data for novel applications. To hold ourselves accountable to that standard, we put forth a set of company values to serve as our guiding principles in decisions about how to grow and operate our business.
Our company values, formalized in October 2021, are as follows:
We value human life and dignity and the right to autonomy and privacy;
We value balancing between the pillars of environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and cultural enrichment;
We value the rule of just law;
We value the prosperity of Geosite, our teammates, and our customers;
We value intellectual progress and earnest expertise.
Codifying these values, and their rule-making ethics expanded upon on our website, marks an important step in our company’s journey. However, our actions will be the ultimate judge of our success in advancing the use of spatial data for public good. To that end, we are striving to build a company culture where every employee is not only encouraged, but also empowered to hold ourselves accountable. One way we have sought to achieve this is through the establishment of a process where employees have the opportunity to review potential new business in the context of our values. If there are concerns or objections, the company will explore paths forward that seek to ameliorate those concerns. In addition, we will continue to find ways and implement processes that help push both Geosite and the industry towards more responsible data usage.
Despite all of the work we have done so far, this is only the beginning. As our company grows, we will continue to assess whether our actions, processes, and values are engendering the use of geospatial data for good. Geosite is committed to serving as an industry leader for the responsible use of data and we look forward to engaging with our customers and partners to ensure the ideals we articulate reflect reality.