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Is a Data Revolution under way, and if so, who will benefit?

Duncan Green's picture

RicardoFuentesNieva croppedGuest post from the beach big Data Festival in Cartagena, Colombia, by Oxfam’s Head of Research and paid up member of the numerati, Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (@rivefuentes)

A spectre is haunting the hallways of the international bureaucracy and national statistical offices – the spectre of the data revolution.  Now, that might suggest a contradiction in terms or the butt of a joke – it’s hard to imagine a platoon of bespectacled statisticians with laptops and GIS devices toppling governments. But something important is indeed happening – let me try and convince you.

A new research report by ODI  “Data Revolution – Finding The Missing Million”  (launched yesterday in Cartagena during a Data Festival) tries to make sense of the coming data revolution, and what it means for international development. According to the authors: The data revolution is “an explosion in the volume of data, the speed with which data are produced, the number of producers of data, the dissemination of data, and the range of things on which there are data, coming from new technologies such as mobile phones and the internet of things and from other sources, such as qualitative data, citizen-generated data and perceptions data.”

For the numerically minded (I proudly include myself in this group) this is a rather welcome transformation. Data, data everywhere – but then why haven’t we, number geeks, solved all of the world’s problems yet?
 

Global Findex 2014: a bonanza of data on financial inclusion

Leora Klapper's picture
Fellow data geeks, today is your lucky day!
 
​Today we launch our report The Global Findex Database 2014: Measuring Financial Inclusion around the World and The 2014 Global Findex database, an updated edition of what is by far the world’s most comprehensive gauge of global progress on financial inclusion. You may also find the database on the Development Data Group's Data Catalog
 


Want to learn how many adults own a bank account worldwide? Right this way. What happens with the gender gap when you break it down by country and region? We’ve got the stats … Check.  Where is mobile money making the biggest inroads, and what are the impacts? Check ... Check. How do adults save and borrow money, as well as manage financial risk? Check … Check … Check!

Freely available data: The public good that keeps on giving?

Markus Goldstein's picture
David Evans blogged last week on some interesting impact evaluation work presented at the annual conference at the Center for the Study of African Economies, in Oxford, UK. We were at the conference too, and enjoyed it at least as much as David did.

Quote of the Week: Janan Ganesh

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Flags fly in front of United Nations Headquarters in New York City"All zones of public discourse have their excesses and irrationalities, but none like foreign policy. In our golden age of data, this is one area that remains resiliently unmeasurable. So anyone can say anything as long as they say it sonorously and use the word “strategy” a lot."
 
- Janan Ganesh, a political columnist for the Financial Times. Previously, he was a political correspondent for The Economist. He appears weekly on BBC1's Sunday Politics television show and wrote a biography of George Osborne, the UK chancellor.
 

Agriculture as Enterprise: An Evolution of Thought and Perspective to Increase Outcomes for India's Farmers

It started with data!
 
In 2007-08, an evaluation by Catalyst Management Services of a tribal livelihoods initiative for the State Planning Commission of Madhya Pradesh showed that agriculture as a livelihoods option was unproductive and  for small tribal farmers; leaving them without a profitable livelihood option. But it wasn’t because of prices, or barriers to entry. Instead, it was because crucial services and government schemes were not reaching those who needed them most.
 
According to the data, only 10-12% of small producers were able to access vital extension schemes and a mere 7-8% of other government schemes. The evaluation found that large farms were crowding out the smaller farmers from accessing key subsidies and benefits. So the State Planning Commission posed a challenge: find a way to reach these marginalized tribal farmers in Madhya Pradesh. 
 

Small teams, big ideas: open data ambition runs from start ups to governments

Liz Carolan's picture
The ODI’s Liz Carolan reflects on a new network of government leaders driving open data 

One of the things we do at the Open Data Institute (ODI) is incubate start ups. Start ups, I have learnt in my 12 months working here, usually begin as being just one or two individuals with a good idea. They have some sort of plan to make that idea a reality. They have some manifestation of the entrepreneurial leadership qualities to at least try to make that idea work. They never have enough time, money or people, and they ordinarily start out surrounded by people telling them all the reasons why it won’t succeed.

Building evidence-informed policy networks in Africa

Paromita Mukhopadhyay's picture

Evidence-informed policymaking is gaining importance in several African countries. Networks of researchers and policymakers in Malawi, Uganda, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Benin and Zimbabwe are working assiduously to ensure credible evidence reaches government officials in time and are also building the capacity of policymakers to use the evidence effectively. The Africa Evidence Network (AEN) is one such body working with governments in South Africa and Malawi. It held its first colloquium in November 2014 in Johannesburg.  



Africa Evidence Network, the beginning

A network of over 300 policymakers, researchers and practitioners, AEN is now emerging as a regional body in its own right. The network began in December 2012 with a meeting of 20 African representatives at 3ie’s Dhaka Colloquium of Systematic Reviews in International Development.

Can you visualize the structure of the world economy and population in one chart?

Morgan Brannon's picture
Following the International Comparison Program (ICP) 2011 final report release from last October, there was particular interest in the charts presenting the results. To give a deeper explanation of one of the most popular charts, we’ve recently produced this video:
 
Real GDP Per Capita and Shares of Global Population, ICP 2011
Source:  ICP, http://icp.worldbank.org/

Despite expectations, cities in East Asia are becoming denser

Chandan Deuskar's picture
 
When we think of urban expansion in the 21st century, we often think of ‘sprawl’, a term that calls to mind low-density, car-oriented suburban growth, perhaps made up of single-family homes. Past studies have suggested that historically, cities around the world are becoming less dense as they grow, which has prompted worries about the environmental impacts of excess land consumption and automobile dependency. A widely cited rule of thumb is that as the population of a city doubles, its built area triples. But our new study on urban expansion in East Asia has yielded some surprising findings that are making us rethink this assumption of declining urban densities everywhere.

New data and research help measure a decade of urban expansion across East Asia

Chandan Deuskar's picture
How do you measure something when there’s no agreement on how to define an indicator?  How do you compare urban data when the word “urban” doesn’t have the same definition in every country? And what happens when cities stop counting the population that starts to spill over the municipal boundaries?
 

 


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