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Blockchain for Development: A Handy Bluffers’ Guide

Duncan Green's picture

Top tip: if you’re in a meeting discussing anything to do with finance, at some point look wise and say ‘you do realize, blockchain is likely to change everything.’ Of course, there is always a terrifying chance that someone will ask what you actually mean. Worry not, because IDS has produced a handy bluffer’s guide to help you respond. Blockchain for Development – Hope or Hype?, by Kevin Hernandez, is the latest in IDS’ ‘Rapid Response Briefings’ series, (which itself is a nice example of how research institutions can work better around critical junctures/windows of opportunity). It’s only four pages, but in case even that is too onerous, here are some excerpts (aka a bluffer’s guide to the bluffer’s guide).

‘What is blockchain technology?

At its heart, the blockchain is a ledger. It is a digital ledger of transactions that is distributed, verified and monitored by multiple sources simultaneously. It may be difficult to think of something as basic as the way we keep and maintain records as a technology, but this is because record-keeping is so ingrained in daily life, albeit often invisibly. The ubiquity of ledgers is in part the reason why blockchains are held as having so much disruptive potential. Traditionally, ledgers have enabled and facilitated vital functions, with the help of trusted third parties such as financial institutions and governments. These include: ensuring us of who owns what; validating transactions; or verifying that a given piece of information is true.

IBNET: Water and sanitation utility costs, charges and performance data at your fingertips

Alexander Danilenko's picture
Turning on the faucet: the water supply system in
Bella Vista, Las Lomas, province of Cocle, Panama.
Photo credit: Gerardo Pesantez / World Bank

Ask your child: “Where does our water come from?” And many of them might roll their eyes at being asked such a silly question, and tell you: “Water comes from the tap.”

But how? What is the name of the company that provides the service to you? How much does your water service cost? Is it expensive? Where does your wastewater go? Is it treated prior to discharge? How many people get water from the utility in your town? 

You can find answers to these and many other questions on our global website www.ib-net.org. Go to its performance database or its separate tariff database and get your answers! You can be one of nearly 8,000 people that visit the site each month to access a set of standard reports for a range of comparisons, benchmarking and assessments for more than 5,000 water utilities from 150 countries.

New Google feature lets users quickly search World Bank development data

James I Davison's picture

If you haven’t already taken the time to do some development-related Googling after last week’s announcement that World Bank statistics are now available through the ubiquitous search engine’s public data tool, I’d suggest exploring the exciting new feature. Now, anyone can easily access 17 World Development Indicators by searching for them in Google. Give it a try by searching for the GDP of China or CO2 emissions of Indonesia or exports of Thailand – or another country and any of these indicators.

When you click on the search result, an interactive chart page shows you how the data have changed over time and allows you to compare to other countries (or the world). (You can also embed the chart, like the one below.) For example, take a look at how the GDP growth rate of China compares to Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in the last 50 years.

To further explore the data, check out another nifty tool, also launched last week by the World Bank. DataFinder lets you research more about these development indicators and see how they look on an interactive map. Read more about DataFinder here.

Biodiversity meets social networks in new macroscopic observatory

Claudia Gabarain's picture

A promising web find that should catch the attention of our resident biodiversity expert, Tony, if it hasn't already: scientists from around the world are gathering this week in London for the e-Biosphere Conference, where they'll present and discuss a project to create a "macroscopic observatory" of biodiversity that