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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 was originally published on NetSquared.
This week we learn about the Resilient Africa Network (RAN),
which is helping African students use open data for disaster relief. There is
also some interesting insight into the link between open development and social
impact bonds, while the data dilemma is brought to the fore. Other articles
speak to the use of ‘Digital Smoke Signals’ generated from big data for
improved development projects and policies, as well as the need to look at not
just big data but small data too.
Leverage Open Data to Aid Communities Vulnerable to DisasterLindsay
Read an AidData Summer Fellow talks about Resilient Africa Network (RAN) which is run by Makerere
University and 19
other African universities in partnership with USAID’s Higher Education
Solutions Network. It harnesses locally based solutions to
decrease the effects of disasters and rehabilitate communities in
disaster-prone areas. At the launch of RAN, innovative projects designed by
students to enhance resilience pointed to the tremendous importance of
accessible, transparent information for increased disaster resilience and
development outcomes. RAN is establishing Resilience Innovation Labs within
participating universities throughout Africa, coupled with online laboratories
and a new online science library to help with its work.
and social impact bonds: rethinking healthcare delivery This
Guardian article by Mark Herringer explains how incentivising investment and
opening information can help local entrepreneurs fill service delivery gaps. He
speaks about the challenges that development organisations face in trying to
deliver effective services with limited resources to underserved parts of
Africa because of difficulty in gaining local knowledge and insight. There are
also few incentives for citizens to create social enterprises that can support
NGOs with service delivery and not enough openly available data on relevant
solutions. He says that “by combining the concepts of open development and
development impact bonds – a financing model based on payments-on-results – change
becomes possible and can come from the grassroots.” He cites Owen Barder and
the Centre for Global Development’s
creation of an outcomes-based
bond, which invites public and private sector actors to agree on
a social outcome they want to achieve and gives some examples of how social
enterprises can improve healthcare service delivery in their
Good Christopherson, uses past examples of the use of data for public services
in the US to highlight some of its constraints. For example, the City of Boston
used the motion-sensing capabilities of smart phones, through encouraging
voluntary download of a Street Bump app to automatically
send the city information about the condition of the streets they’re driving
on. The research found that there were more potholes reported in wealthy areas
of the city than in poor ones, but this was only because wealthy people were
far more likely to own smart phones and to use the Street Bump app. While
noting that the use of data today is unavoidable and important some suggestions
for responsible use are given.
Data for ‘Digital Smoke Signals’This New York Times article by Steve Lohr discusses the United
Nations Global Pulse entrepreneurial initiatives on “Big Data for development”,
which aims to improve development and aid programs and policies through
real-time monitoring and prediction. Research has found for instance that
analyzing Twitter messages can give “digital smoke signals of distress”, an
early warning of a problems to come such as spikes in unemployment, price rises
and disease. Global Pulse also promotes the concept of “data philanthropy” and
the creation of a public “data commons,” in which companies contribute large
anonymised customer data sets for development research. They are building a
network of Pulse Labs to this end, the first of which operates in Jakarta
Big Data, Small
Data, and YouChris Albon reviews a post in TechPresident by Jeffrey Warren of
Public Lab who says that the big data risks empowering the powerful much more.
He says that most data science requires only a simple understanding of
some basic methods of data collection and analysis, which he calls a “localbrew
data”: data made by locals, for locals, to solve local issues through using
data first aid kits. These include free tools that allow exploration of your
data without a data scientist.
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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