Data Digest is a weekly round-up of the latest news on data-related projects in the nonprofit sector, compiled and authored by Keisha Taylor of GuideStar International and TechSoup Global. It originally appeared on NetSquared.

This week check out the launch of the new Global Open Data Initiative, the pursuit for the release and use of open data in Latin America and thoughts on open data and democracy in Africa. A list of wrong assumptions about the use of big data for humanitarian relief is pointed out and you can have a look at some of the big data presentations at the recent Personal Democracy Forum held in New York.

Open Data Applied
 

Announcing the Global Open Data Initiative (GODI)
A new Global Open Data Initiative has been launched through a partnership with the Web Foundation, Sunlight Foundation, Open Institute and Open Knowledge Foundation. It aims to share principles and resources for governments and societies on how to best maximize open government data opportunities. Through identifying successes, it will provide a roadmap of policies and institutions that governments can use to create meaningful new open data initiatives.

OpenData Latinoamérica: Driving the demand side of data and scraping towards transparency
Miguel Paz, the founder of Hacks/Hackers Chile in partnership with Mariano Blejman of Argentina’s Hacks/Hackers network, and with the support of the World Bank Institute’s Global Media Development program intends to open data from across Latin America through their OpenData Latinoamérica project. They are building a centralized site to store and share Latin American public data. Their network will help with trouble shooting and data training. It will also give people the tools to help them work with and understand the power of data and aid data reuse. Facilitating global literacy about Big Data is viewed as important for the media, civic hackers, and civil society.

How open data is transforming democracy in Africa – and the challenges it faces
Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of Institute For The Future (IFTF) discusses what she means by ‘Socialstructing’ that is “creating value by aggregating micro contributions by large networks using social tools and technologies”. Using the African context she explains the meaning behind the related concepts of socialstructed work, socialstructed learning and socialstructed governance and gives example of how it has been useful in Kenya.   She says that although using technology and open data tools can be “dangerous” in some countries, they can still be used in other spheres of government as for example BudgIT in Nigeria.

Big Data

 
Big Data for Disaster Response: A List of Wrong Assumptions
In response to Derrick Herris’ post If you’re disappointed with big data, you’re not paying attention, Patrick Meir gives a list of misplaced assumptions about the relevance of Big Data for disaster response and emergency management. He says that Big Data on its own will not improve decision-making for disaster response since many decisions made by humanitarian professionals during disasters are still not based on empirical data. He also says that the fact that Big Data suffers from extreme sample bias is usually true of any dataset collected using non-random sampling methods. He also refutes claims that Big Data enthusiasts want to get rid of traditional sources of information for disaster response and says that given much of big data is user generated it is difficult to forget the human element.

Big Data Has Big Stage at Personal Democracy Forum
At this year’s Personal Democracy Forum “big data” was a primary topic for speakers. While acknowledging NSA whistleblower leaks on data surveillance, ways to use big data for democratization was heavily discussed. The importance of quality and not simply size of datasets was highlighted but also the value of intuition and emotion when making decisions based on big data. Videos of presentations can be found on the PDF website.

Image: NetSquared