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Between 2 Geeks: Episode 7 - The Future of Data? (Cape Town Edition)

Tariq Khokhar's picture

The first World Data Forum was held in Cape Town, South Africa earlier this year. The gathering brought together statisticians, data scientists, business people, public officials and NGOs to learn from each other about how data are being used to measure and drive progress globally.

In this episode, marking the end of the first season of Between 2 Geeks, I share some highlights from the event.

The World Bank hosted a session on “The Future of Data” where the recurring theme was “data integration” - combining multiple sources of data, from multiple types of organization, with multiple types of technology and approach to offer insights that are greater than the sum of their parts. You can watch a video of the whole session here and in the podcast, hear from Mark Ryland of Amazon Web Services, Molly Jackman of Facebook and Andy Tatem of the World Pop Project and University of Southampton.

I also spoke with Anna Rosling Rönnlund of Gapminder who told me about her organization’s journey to make data more understandable and to help promote a fact-based world view. One of the projects they were demonstrating is Dollar Street - a site that lets you explore photographs of the everyday life and possessions of the poorest to the richest people around the world. What’s striking is how similar life looks for someone living on say $100/month in almost any country you care to look at.

This episode of Between 2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks, listen to new episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.
 

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 6 - Collecting data with surveys is easy, right?

Raka Banerjee's picture

According to the latest estimates, 33.5% of people in Ethiopia live under $1.90 a day. But how do we know that? Where do this number come from?

Well, it comes from household surveys! To learn more about what it takes to collect these data, we talk to Diane Steele, who’s the Household Survey Coordinator of the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) program here at the World Bank. The LSMS program works with countries to help them collect high-quality household survey data, and also to improve the methods used to collect it.

In this episode, Diane tells us about what it takes to put together a household survey. Among other things, you’ve got to design a questionnaire - but how do you make sure that you’re asking the right questions? And you need to design a sample - but how do you know how large of a sample you need in order for the survey to be nationally representative? And you need to train your interviewers properly - but how do you know that they’ve understood the process clearly?

In a world where 77 countries still don’t have the data that they need to measure and track poverty, it’s all the more important to keep improving the way that we collect surveys, so that we’re confident that we’re getting good data that countries can use to create better policies for their citizens. That’s why the World Bank committed to work with the world’s poorest countries to ensure that they collect household surveys every 3 years, so that we’re all better equipped with the information we need to fight poverty and improve people’s lives.

Aside from all that, you can also tune in to hear me ask Tariq about whether he's the head of his household, how many hours he worked last week, and whether or not he's living under an asbestos roof.

This episode of Between 2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar & Raka Banerjee, and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks, listen to new episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 5 - A renewable energy tipping point?

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Which World Bank financed project can you see from space, and on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Instagram?

As Raka and I found out in this episode, it’s the “Noor Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant” in Morocco - an epic energy project that’s part of the country’s plan to have 42% of its energy mix come from renewables by 2020.

Seriously, it’s epic: just look at these pictures from CNN and this World Bank video.

Renewable energy seems to be getting cheaper than ever, and we ask the question: are we reaching a “tipping point” where renewable energy is cheaper to produce than energy from fossil fuels.

In our discussion with Mafalda Duarte, head of the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF), I learned that renewable energy (in this case, concentrated solar power) is a bit more complicated than just finding somewhere sufficiently sunny or windy. For example, the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology being used in Noor Ouarzazate is relatively new and so more expensive. With the investment CIF is making, the cost of the CSP technology can be driven down, and the tipping point reached faster for other countries wanting to adopt the technology.

So what are the issues of geography, politics, technology and economics when it comes to large scale renewable energy, and how can we influence them to help countries reach the tipping point where renewable energy becomes the best option?

This episode of Between 2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar & Raka Banerjee, and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks, listen to more episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 4 - What can you measure with cellphone metadata?

Andrew Whitby's picture

Globally, there are over 98 mobile subscriptions per 100 people, so the chances are, you have a cell phone. Now look at your recent calls, both sent and received: Who do you call most often? Who calls you the most? Do you send, or receive more calls? All this is cell phone metadata: not the content of the calls, but ancillary information, the “who, where and when”.

It’s information that can reveal a lot about you. Your cellphone carrier already uses it to bill you, and may also be using it to target marketing or special offers at you. And with appropriate privacy protections, it can offer researchers a similar opportunity. In this week’s episode of Between 2 Geeks we ask how cellphone metadata (“call detail records”) can help researchers understand entire societies.

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 3 – Getting an education on education

Raka Banerjee's picture

Education is one of the strongest tools that we have to reduce poverty, improve health outcomes, increase gender equality, and promote peace and stability. For every year that people are educated, their earnings increase by 10%. However, there are still 121 million children who are not attending primary and secondary school around the world, and approximately 250 million children can’t read or write.

What can countries do to change this situation, and what can successful countries teach others about how to get things right in the classroom?

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 1 - The ups and downs of demography

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Between now and 2050, Africa will add over 1 billion people to its population.

That’s a startling statement about something that’s 30 years in the future. One group with a record of making such long-range projections is demographers like Dr. John May with the Population Reference Bureau.

In our discussion with John, he explains that the growth and structure of populations is linked to one fundamental issue: mortality rates. When infant and child mortality rates decline, fertility rates also eventually decline and population growth slows down. And as life expectancies increase, the share of older people in a country’s population goes up.

But it turns out things are a bit more complicated than that, and there are large implications for public policy that are ultimately driven by demography.

Even when a region like Africa has declining fertility rates, “population momentum” means that countries will continue to grow. With this growth comes the need for better infrastructure, services, and crucially, jobs.

By one estimate, the global economy will need to add 600 million jobs over the next 10 years - mostly in Africa and Asia - just to keep up with young people entering the workforce.

So how is demography shaping our future, and how can we make it the future we want?

This episode of Between  2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar & Raka Banerjee, and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks , listen to new episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and  subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.

Between 2 Geeks: A new podcast about data and development

Tariq Khokhar's picture

I find data to be a great way of getting into a subject.

Take forests for example. Making this map  about where forests have been lost and gained since 1990 led me down a wonderful rabbit hole of learning about China’s successful reforestation programs, how forests support people’s livelihoods, the definitions of what counts as a forest (hint: it’s not just “a bunch of trees”), and how organizations use a variety of sources from nationals surveys to satellite imagery to produce this data.

Not only is there a story behind every number, but numbers can help to tell the story of development.  

That’s the idea behind a new podcast - “Between 2 Geeks” in which Raka, Andrew and I, talk to folks who create and use data, as they work across the field of international development.

We’ve got a great lineup of guests, and discuss topics including Africa’s “demographic dividend” - how population structures are shaping the future of the region; a new risk insurance mechanism designed to help stop pandemics like the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak; and how metadata from cell phone networks can be used to estimate measures of migration and poverty.

Just like the forest map, I’ve found each episode to be a peek into the rabbit hole of a new subject - I’ve learned how to better communicate about uncertainty, the economics of large scale renewable energy systems, and what the future of how data is produced and used may look like.  

We’ve really enjoyed making the first series of this podcast and we hope you’ll tune in. The opening episode will be available on Tuesday April 4th - it’ll be posted here on The Data Blog, on the World Bank’s SoundCloud channel, and you can subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.

 

Weekly wire: The global forum

Darejani Markozashvili's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

For Every Child, End AIDS: Seventh Stocktaking Report, 2016
UNICEF

Despite remarkable achievements in the prevention and treatment of HIV, this report finds that progress has been uneven globally. In 2015, more than half of the world’s new infections (1.1 million out of 2.1 million) were among women, children and adolescents, and nearly 2 million adolescents aged 10–19 were living with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region most impacted by HIV, three in four new infections in 15–19-year-olds were among girls. The report proposes strategies for preventing HIV among women, children and adolescents who have been left behind, and treating those who are living with HIV.

Navigating Complexity: Climate, Migration, and Conflict in a Changing World
Wilson Center/USAID Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation
Climate change is expected to contribute to the movement of people through a variety of means. There is also significant concern climate change may influence violent conflict. But our understanding of these dynamics is evolving quickly and sometimes producing surprising results. There are considerable misconceptions about why people move, how many move, and what effects they have. In a discussion paper for USAID’s Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation, the Environmental Change and Security Program presents a guide to this controversial and consequential nexus of global trends. Building off a workshop held at the Wilson Center last year, we provide a background scan of relevant literature and an in-depth analysis of the high-profile cases of Darfur and Syria to discern policy-relevant lessons from the latest research.

The Bookmark podcast: Uncovering the literary talent of World Bank staff

Peter Kapuscinski's picture

Podcasts are more popular than ever, thanks in large part to the wildly successful This American Life produced, Serial, and the rise of smartphones and Bluetooth enabled cars, that allow listeners to stream podcasts practically anywhere.
 
At the World Bank Group, Senior Communications Officer, Richard Miron has produced a new podcast series, called Bookmark that explores the creative literary works of staff members.
 
Each week, Richard interviews a variety of staff members, past and present, who have put pen to paper and written books of their own. It’s not about World Bank books, but rather the expansive literary talent that work at the Bank.
 
Richard explains the thinking behind the series:
 
“The people of the World Bank are what makes the institution tick. They come with different experiences and from differing backgrounds. The aim of Bookmark is to show– ‘the literary side’ of those at the Bank, and to illustrate how their work has contributed to their writing and how their experience in writing has added to their work.”

The first episode features Agi Kiss, who currently works as a Regional Environmental and Safeguards Advisor. During her career at the World Bank Group, Agi worked in Nairobi, Kenya, managing a wildlife and protected areas project. She went on a number of safaris to explore the country.


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