October 27, 2020 News & Features » Cover Story


Ewan Oglethorpe, 30  

Executive Director, Data Friendly Space 

click to enlarge feat44_ewan_ogelthorpe.jpg

Scott Elmquist

Child-friendly spaces are designated areas set up for children to play during humanitarian crises, to retain some sense of normalcy as adults battle floods, fires and pandemics. 

For globetrotting data science enthusiast Ewan Oglethorpe, it only made sense to name his Richmond-based, international database company Data Friendly Space. 

The idea for the company was born when Oglethorpe traveled to Nepal to lend a hand during the 2015 earthquakes. The United Nations compound had myriad tents set up, and Oglethorpe landed at the information management and assessment tent. 

“I told them I knew how to code and analyze data and pretty much right away they put me to work,” Oglethorpe says. “Within a week, I was presenting at events.” 

He caught the humanitarian bug and left his “interesting but unfulfilling” San Francisco job, bopping between Nepal, Geneva and the U.S. before settling in Richmond. Oglethorpe says when the pandemic started, the company submitted two pandemic-related proposals to aid the U.S. in understanding and analyzing secondary data, such as social media posts.  

“Especially during the pandemic with people unable to interact in person, a higher importance is placed on secondary data,” Oglethorpe says. 

The company is currently assisting 13 countries with using secondary data to get better situation awareness and understand what is going in a timely manner. “We are trying to modernize how humanitarian organizations use data,” Oglethorpe says. 

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