Be Data Driven Guides

World Economic Forum/Vital Wave

Big Data Big Impact: New Possibilities for International Development
A flood of data is created every day by the interactions of billions of people using computers, GPS devices, cell phones, and medical devices. Many of these interactions occur through the use of mobile devices being used by people in the developing world, people whose needs and habits have been poorly understood until now. Researchers and policymakers are beginning to realise the potential for channelling these torrents of data into actionable information that can be used to identify needs, provide services, and predict and prevent crises for the benefit of low-income populations. Concerted action is needed by governments, development organisations, and companies to ensure that this data helps the individuals and communities who create it.

World Economic Forum

Data-Driven Development: Pathways for Progress 

When it comes to the opportunity for data analytics to provide new insights and visibility on the challenges of sustainable development, the world is in a pre-dawn fog. Defined currently by its ambiguity and complexity, the global dialogue on the use of data is shaped by both hope and anxiety. While using data for positive socio-economic gain holds great promise, it is not a certainty. It is imperative to chart a course through this complexity to capture the development benefits that Big Data can bring.

However, the global narrative on the use of data for development is conflated and incoherent. Competing tensions on data control and ownership, limited technical understanding, the lack of coordination, shifting power dynamics and a lack of effective governance frameworks have conspired to hinder clarity of integrated goals and principles across different communities of interest. This report aims to help clarify some of these complexities to provide a more coherent path forward. Based on insights from a cross-disciplinary community of policy-makers and experts from industry, academia and civil society convened by the World Economic Forum, this report hopes to help clear some of the fog that is currently obscuring the vision of how Big Data might be used to address the challenges of sustainable development.


UNICEF Innovation Annual Report 2014

The UNICEF Innovation 2014 Annual Report is a comprehensive overview of our current focus, structure, and strategies – and how we strengthen the overall UNICEF mission. These three categories are expanded upon to show in detail how we work, where we work, and our goals for the future.

The main focus, giving access to information, opportunity, and choice to all children, is shown tangibly through specific projects from around the world. How we launch and scale these projects is shown in our structure–the strength of UNICEF Innovation is shown in our varied global offices and our emphasis on work that happens in the field. At the root of our structure, we show the principles that govern these innovations, and how they uniquely propel each project into relevant, scalable initiatives.

In our “Strategy” section, we explain the common areas of work that unite the 300 innovation projects around the world, and form the building blocks of our partnerships with those who share our commitment to access for all. Our report captures select engagements with partners from the private sector and academia, the future themes we’re exploring, and our new financial engagements established to extend our reach and impact. This document is designed to inspire our readers and demonstrate how innovation truly allows us to “unite for children”.

Gates Foundation/Cartesian

Using Mobile Data for Development

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous, used not only by relatively wealthy consumers in developed markets but also increasingly by people in the world’s poorest countries. In 2012, there were 5.9 billion active mobile connections globally which has been forecasted to increase to 7.6 billion in 2017. As the power of mobile devices has increased and their cost has fallen, more and more people around the world have found them to be critical tools that enhance their daily lives.

Mobile devices generate a range of data about their users. Information about identity, location, social patterns, movement, finances and even ambient environmental conditions can be derived from the data logged in mobile systems. As this data is uniquely detailed and tractable, it can capture information not easily found from other sources at a scale that would be difficult to recreate through other means. In particular, mobile is one of the only large-scale, digital data sources that touch large portions of low income populations in developing countries, implying that solutions identified in one market can easily be experimented with in another. While this data is personal and private, if it is analyzed under proper protections and anonymization protocols, it can be used to enhance the lives of poor people around the world across a range of dimensions.

Data Revolution Group

A World That Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development

New technologies are leading to an exponential increase in the volume and types of data available, creating unprecedented possibilities for informing and transforming society and protecting the environment. Governments, companies, researchers and citizen groups are in a ferment of experimentation, innovation and adaptation to the new world of data, a world in which data are bigger, faster and more detailed than ever before. This is the data revolution.

Some are already living in this new world. But too many people, organisations and governments are excluded because of lack of resources, knowledge, capacity or opportunity. There are huge and growing inequalities in access to data and information and in the ability to use it.

Data needs improving. Despite considerable progress in recent years, whole groups of people are not being counted and important aspects of people’s lives and environmental conditions are still not measured. For people, this can lead to the denial of basic rights, and for the planet, to continued environmental degradation. Too often, existing data remain unused because they are released too late or not at all, not well-documented and harmonized, or not available at the level of detail needed for decision-making.

UN Global Pulse

Big Data for Development: A Primer

Big Data is an umbrella term referring to the large amounts of digital data continually generated by the global population. The speed and frequency by which data is produced and collected—by an increasing number of sources—is responsible for today’s data deluge: the amount of available digital data is projected to increase by an annual 40%. A large share of this output is “data exhaust,” or records generated as a by-product of everyday interactions with digital products or services.

The private sector—including mobile phone carriers, credit card companies and social media networking sites—manages enormous data sets that hold rich insights. Companies analyze this data to support decision-making or provide market intelligence. More recently, public sector institutions have begun leveraging similar techniques to generate actionable insights for policymakers.

Advances in computing and data science now make it possible to process and analyze Big Data in real time. However, due to its size and often complex and unstructured nature, Big Data presents several analytical challenges that demand continually updated tools and expertise. Legitimate concerns about privacy and the digital divide also present new obstacles to harnessing Big Data sets for public benefit.

This increasing volume of real-time data is driving a global data revolution—a phenomenon that is recent (less than a decade old), extremely rapid (growth is exponential) and immensely consequential for society.


New Data for Understanding the Human Condition: International Perspectives

Data-driven and evidence-based research is fundamental to understanding and responding effectively and efficiently to global challenges related to the health and well-being of populations around the world. Spurred by the rapid growth in new forms of data collected in conjunction with commercial transactions, internet searches, social networking, and the like, and by technological advances in the capacity to access and link existing survey, census, and administrative data sets, the potential payoff for international and multidisciplinary collaboration of scientific groups to address these challenges is increasing rapidly. The Global Science Forum established an expert group to review developments in international data availability, consider their suitability for comparative research, detail the challenges to be addressed, and make recommendations to respond to these new opportunities. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the expert group.


The Ultimate Guide to Effective Data Collection

With the growing importance placed on data, surveys have become an indispensable tool for every organization, from billion-dollar tech companies to rural nonprofts. Creating a survey seems simple — just ask a few simple questions, and you’ll get back data to solve your every problem. However, designing a survey correctly takes time and knowledge. A poorly-designed survey will lead to useless data, wasting your time and money. As computer scientists say, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

This 30-page guide by SocialCops contains everything you need to know to improve the way you collect data, including the basic building blocks of effective data collection:

  • Frame your research question, outcomes and indicators
  • Choose between 4 types of data collection methods
  • Use (and even mix) qualitative and quantitative research
  • Write purposeful questions to improve data quality
  • Sample your population, with a simple sample size formula

SocialCops hopes this ebook will be a useful resource for you in your data collection efforts.