Big Data for Development and more... #DataDigest

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This week features some telling views on the use of big data for development as well as some perspective how how the social sector can better use data for social benefit. Also highlighted are controversial views on the future need for data scientists and Nominet Trust's Data Unity visualisation project is announced.

Big Data
Big Data for Development: From Information- to Knowledge Societies
Using a three-dimensional conceptual framework this article reviews the prerequisites, opportunities, and threats of Big Data Analysis for international development. It discusses the way that tracking words, locations, nature, behaviour and economic activity can help with this. Infrastructure, "capacities and skills" needed as well as "generic services" and Incentives that could be provided are also noted. According to the authors, big data analysis can also lead to a new kind of digital divide in data-based knowledge which informs decision-making. Data does not automatically improve development but requires policy choices that allow it to do so.

Big Data and Development: “The Second Half of the Chess Board”
In this World Bank post Wolfgang Fengler talks about why mobile leadership and innovation is encouraging Fortune 500 companies to invest in Africa. He also describes how super-computing, an increase in open data initiatives and “techpreneuers” that use data and ICT in useful and creative ways are helping to forward development.

Data Scientists Not Required: Big Data Is About Business Users
In this post Kathryn Kelly controversially claims that the data scientist hype will soon be over. The new school of big data she describes should enable businesses to use interactive UIs to realise big data’s value because business users need solutions they can understand. The perspective of team members for instance is also important as it isn’t just the individual analysts that know the business best. He also explains why visualisations, which are much more powerful than spreadsheets will be required in such a scenario.

Data Visualisations
Introducing.....Data Unity
The Nominet Trust is starting a new project called Data Unity which will realise the creation of an open source tool that enables people who are not data specialists to explore and visualise data. By making this available it will also help individuals take their first steps into the world of open data.

Data for Social Benefit
How The Social Sector Can Better Use Data
Here Joshua Middleman explains that while NGOs lack the means of large companies to utilise data, it is more a lack of understanding of how data can increase effectiveness that limits data driven decision-making. For many years the donor community has focused on monitoring and evaluation best practice, yet this remains unresolved and without consensus. A focus on accounting rather than data limits its use for impact investment by the sector which also needs to collaborate much more.
 

Image: Paul Rossman