After nearly 100 years as the largest U.S. based business media brand, Forbes has established itself as a technology leader in the news industry. To compete in a new mobile environment, Forbes designed a next-generation mobile application to better engage users with their stories. They turned to MongoDB to create a new infrastructure for engaging and dynamic content.
Steven Bond, the group director for the Forbes.com Software Development Team, chose MongoDB for its intuitive web interface, ease of use, and low cost. Says Bond of his experience with MongoDB, “it just works.”
MongoDB made it possible for Forbes.com to store all of its data in a single database. This database contains information on nearly one million articles from thousands of global contributors and more than one hundred twenty thousand users, companies and place list entries. With MongoDB, Forbes is able to aggregate its data, connect it to its mobile and web applications, and integrate partner feeds from a centralized location, creating a rich user experience.
“The beauty of MongoDB is that we can constantly evolve without reengineering our entire approach,” says Bond. In his next project, Bond aims to use social media statistics to predict where users will consume content in the future and the kinds of content that will drive traffic. With MongoDB, Bond will help Forbes change how news is consumed and understood.
Using Big Data for Humanitarian Crisis Mapping
In the wake of natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan, which brought widespread destruction to the Philippines several weeks ago, data management tools have become a critical component of the post-disaster landscape. Aid groups are monitoring tweets and instant messages where the infrastructure exists to support them, while tracking local news reports on the ground to find the areas suffering the greatest damage, directing resources to those most in need. Sourcing data can significantly improve the efforts of aid initiatives after a disaster. Big data for development, or data philanthropy, streamlines crisis management and prevention by using data processing tools to anticipate and respond to humanitarian emergencies. Initiatives like the UN Global Pulse team are using data to find the “digital smoke signals of distress” that can appear months before showing up on official reports. Real-time data monitoring using social networks, cell phones, blogs, and online commerce platforms can alert the team to indicators of social distress or natural disaster. And with the capacity to recognize these trends comes the ability to prepare the right aid or prevention plan that could save lives. What Big Data Can Do Big data can create a clear picture of a disaster’s regional effects. A program called Ushahidi sourced eyewitness reports (in person and through social media) of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The reports’ data became a live crisis map, showing where victims lay buried under collapsed buildings and where aid was most needed. After Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines last year, the Digital Humanitarian Initiative used over 20,000 social media messages to create a map of the storm’s impact and determine where to send aid first. Some organizations believe data for development can soothe social discontent. CNN reported that the U.S. State Department has analyzed data to try and prevent conflict from starting or escalating. Its Conflict and Stabilization Operations office analyzes behavioral patterns and semantic trends in social media to anticipate threats to peace while designing strategies to thwart potential outbreaks of violence. Partnerships For Philanthropy As the data philanthropy movement grows, the tech industry will be observing which companies and corporations are the first to join this global project. Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram might help us move towards a future where disease or disaster can be instantly monitored and possibly prevented, or where the spread of poverty can be stopped in its tracks. The success of these new ventures will not only depend on the determination of the people who work on them. Small humanitarian initiatives will need to develop partnerships with the larger corporations that control telecommunications and census data. Without access to big data or the proper processing tools, data philanthropy groups will not be able to keep up with the demands of crises happening in real time. Going Forward The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report this past June on the importance of big data and humanitarianism. Finding ways to improve humanitarian aid services with data is one of the great challenges and opportunities of our age. But accessing data is not necessarily straightforward. Negotiating with data providers can be difficult and privacy concerns could make corporations unwilling to participate. And while big data processing can be used to improve lives, it should augment existing data gathering methods, not replace them. MongoDB has helped several organizations use data mining to augment public service . The city of Chicago used MongoDB to design WindyGrid , a geographic information system providing a unified view of the city’s operations across a map. Including real-time data like 911 and 311 service calls, critical information is geospatially enabled and tracked to help the Chicago’s Emergency Management and Communications Office handle events or crises across the city. To explore the frontiers of physics, CERN built a Data Aggregation System (DAS) on MongoDB to help physicists search for and aggregate information across complex data landscapes. The data and metadata CERN handles are constantly evolving, but the DAS allows researchers to find information with text based queries, aggregating the results from distributed providers while preserving integrity and security. While these companies haven’t used data mining directly for humanitarian aid, mining data with MongoDB can easily be adapted to philanthropic service. Data philanthropy has the potential to influence humanitarian efforts and change how we understand the scope of big data. As these aid organizations grow in influence, it will be interesting to see how the industry shifts to make room for this new use of data.
A Hub for Eco-Positivity
In this guest blog post, Natalia Goncharova, founder and web developer for EcoHub — an online platform where people can search for and connect with more than 13,000 companies, NGOs, and governmental agencies across 200-plus countries — describes how the company uses MongoDB to generate momentum around global environmental change. There is no denying that sustainability has become a global concern. In fact, the topic has gone mainstream. A 2021 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows a 71% rise in the popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the past five years. The report “measures engagement, awareness and action for nature in 27 languages, across 54 countries, covering 80% of the world’s population.” The EIU report states that the sustainability trend is accelerating in developing and emerging countries including Ecuador and Indonesia. For me, it’s not a lack of positive sentiment that is holding back change; it is our ability to turn ideas and goodwill into action. We need a way of harnessing this collective sentiment. In 2020, the decision to found EcoHub and devote so much time to it was a difficult one to make. I had just been promoted to team leader at work, and things were going well. Leaving my job with the goal of helping to protect our environment sounded ridiculous at times. Many questions raced through my mind, the most insistent one being: Will I be able to actually make a difference? However, as you’ll see in this post, my decision was ultimately quite clear. What is EcoHub? When I created EcoHub, my principal aim was to connect ecological NGOs and businesses. Now, EcoHub enables users to search a database of more than 10,000 organizations in more than 200 countries. You can search via a map or keyword. By making it easier to connect, EcoHub lets users quickly build networks of sustainably minded organizations. We believe networks are key to spreading good ideas, stripping out duplication, and building expertise. Building the platform has been a monumental task. I have developed it myself over the past few months, acting as product manager, project manager, and full-stack developer. (It wouldn’t be possible without my research, design, and media teams as well.) During the development of the EcoHub platform on MongoDB, the flexible schema helped us edit and add new fields in a document because the process doesn’t require defining data types. We had a situation in which it was necessary to change the schema and implement changes for all documents in the database. In this case, modifying the entire collection with MongoDB didn’t take long for an experienced developer. Additionally, MongoDB’s document-oriented data model works well with the way developers think. The model reflects how we see the objects in the codebase and makes the process easier. In my experience, the best resource to find answers when I ran into a question or issue was MongoDB documentation . It provides a good explanation of almost anything you want to do in your database. Search is everything In technical terms, my choices were ReactJS, NodeJS, and MongoDB. It is the latter that is so important to the effectiveness of the EcoHub platform. Search is everything. The easier we can make it for individuals or organizations to find like minds, the better. I knew from the start that I’d need a cloud-based database with strong querying abilities. As an experienced developer, I had previous experience with MongoDB and knew the company to be reliable, with excellent documentation and a really strong community of developers. It was a clear choice from the start. Choosing our partners carefully is also important. If EcoHub is to build awareness of environmental issues and foster collaboration, then we must ensure we make intelligent choices in terms of the companies we work with. I have been impressed with MongoDB’s sustainability commitments , particularly around diversity and inclusion, carbon reduction, and its appetite for exploring the way the business has an impact globally and locally. EcoHub search is built on the community version of MongoDB , which enables us to work quickly, implement easily and deliver the right performance. Importantly, as EcoHub grows and develops, MongoDB also allows us to make changes on the fly. As environmental concerns continue to grow, our database will expand. MongoDB enables our users to search, discover, and connect with environmental organizations all over the world. I believe these connections are key to sharing knowledge and expertise and helping local citizens coordinate their sustainability efforts. Commitment to sustainability When it came down to it, the decision to build EcoHub wasn’t as difficult as I initially thought. My commitment to sustainability actually started when I was young: I can remember myself at 8 years old, glued to the window, waiting for the monthly Greenpeace magazine to arrive. Later, that commitment grew as I went to university and graduated with a degree in Environmental Protection and Engineering. Soon after, I founded my first ecology organization and rallied our cityagainst businesses wanting to cut down our beautiful city parks. Starting EcoHub was a natural and exciting next step, despite the risks and unknown factors. I hope we can all join hands to create a sustainable future for ourselves, our children, and our animals and plants, and keep our planet beautiful and healthy. MongoDB Atlas makes operating MongoDB a snap at any scale. Determine the costs and benefits with our cost calculator .