Could Texting Analytics Save More Lives than Penicillin?

That’s the bold claim of Nancy Lubin, CEO of, a teen activism organization that communicates by SMS text with 200,000 young people each week about a variety of local and national causes.

In this brief TED Talk, Lubin recounts how stunned she was when teens began texting back to the organization, unsolicited, about problems ranging from bullying to  rape, leading the group to start a text-based crisis hotline.  But what really excites Lubin is the possibility that analysis of real-time data on a range of issues affecting young people could help preemptive intervention to prevent tragic incidents before they occur.  Targeted school-level  intervention, where bullying patterns emerge, for example, could prevent an untold number of teen suicides.

Lubin likens the concept to CompStat, the data-driven crime mapping program that has helped the NYPD and police in other major cities achieve dramatic drops in violent crimes by analyzing patterns of lesser crimes that tend to precede them.

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