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Information and Communication Technologies

Resilient housing joins the machine learning revolution

Sarah Elizabeth Antos's picture

 World Bank

Machine learning algorithms are excellent at answering “yes” or “no” questions. For example, they can scan huge datasets and correctly tell us: Does this credit card transaction look fraudulent? Is there a cat in this photo?

But it’s not only the simple questions – they can also tackle nuanced and complex questions.

Today, machine learning algorithms can detect over 100 types of cancerous tumors more reliably than a trained human eye. Given this impressive accuracy, we started to wonder: what could machine learning tell us about where people live? In cities that are expanding at breathtaking rates and are at risk from natural disasters, could it warn us that a family’s wall might collapse during an earthquake or rooftop blow away during a hurricane?

Malaysia’s digital future needs faster Internet

Siddhartha Raja's picture
As an early pioneer in the digital economy, Malaysia has many of the building blocks to leapfrog to a new digital future, but the country will need faster Internet to go the next mile. Photo: bigstock/ mast3r
About 20 young women in the eRezeki center in Shah Alam, Malaysia work quietly on their computers as the class proceeds. They are there to learn about how to work online to earn  an income. On banners nearby are vignettes of Malaysians—many from the bottom 40% of the income group, and the primary target group for this program—who have benefited from these opportunities. One businesswoman selling clothes and furniture online since 2013 saw her monthly sales increase ten-fold after learning how to better market her products online.  A retired lecturer learnt about online work opportunities and began performing dispatch services for delivery apps, earning over RM 2,400 (~US$580) a month.

Can artificial intelligence stop corruption in its tracks?

Vinay Sharma's picture
AI and data have the potential to prevent corruption. Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank


The amount of goods and services that governments purchase to discharge their official business is a staggering $10 trillion per year – and is estimated at 10 to 25 percent of global GDP. Without effective public scrutiny, the risk of money being lost to corruption and misappropriation is vast. Citizens, rightly so, are demanding more transparency around the process for awarding government contracts. And, at the end of the day, corruption hurts the poor the most by reducing access to essential services such as health and education.

Securing land tenure with smartphones

Linus Pott's picture

Photo by Linus Pott / World Bank

More than 1,000 years.

That’s how long recent estimates suggest it would take in some developing countries to legally register all land – due to the limited number of land surveyors in country and the use of outdated, cumbersome, costly, and overly regulated surveying and registration procedures.

But I am convinced that the target of registering all land can be achieved – faster and cheaper. This is an urgent need in Africa where less than 10% of all land is surveyed and registered, as this impacts securing land tenure rights for both women and men – a move that can have a greater effect on household income, food security, and equity.

The question remains, how can we register land and secure tenure at scale?

Perhaps one of our answers can be found in rural Tanzania where I recently witnessed the use of a mobile surveying and registration application. In several villages, USAID and the government of Tanzania are piloting the use of the Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST), one of several (open-source) applications available on the market. DFID, SIDA, and DANIDA are supporting a similar project.

The process of mobile land surveying and registration goes like this:

How can shared and on-demand mobility complement public transit?

Nathalie Picarelli's picture
Photo: Diego Torres Sivlestre/Flickr
São Paulo is home to 20.7 million residents, making it the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere. Commuting in this bustling Brazilian city is a serious affair: the region sees a whopping 44 million trips every day, with public transit, motorized and non-motorized modes each accounting for about 1/3 of the total. The average public transit commute clocks in at 67 minutes. However, commuting times can be much longer for those in the periphery, where lower-income households tend to live. This penalizes the mobility of the poor. For instance, wealthier residents take almost twice as many trips as poorer residents.
 
While public transit has a relatively high reach across the metropolitan region, it falls short of the growing demand, and historical underinvestment has led to growing motorization. Congestion in Sao Paulo is among the worst in Latin America. In 2013, the productivity losses and pollution associated with congestion costed the metropolitan area close to 8% of its GDP, or over 1% of Brazil’s total GDP.
 
In the last decades, the World Bank Group has been working closely with São Paulo to boost public transport infrastructure and policies, which has helped the city expand mass transit coverage and develop a more comprehensive approach to urban transport.
 
The latest wave of disruptive technologies that is reshaping the transport sector –including shared mobility platforms, electric vehicles, and automation— are now providing exciting new ways to build on these gains. If properly integrated into broader public transport policies, these innovations have the potential to reduce the use of single-occupancy vehicles, decrease pollution and carbon emissions, improve traffic flow, and save energy.
 
Among all these new technologies, let’s take a closer look at shared mobility and on-demand mobility solutions like ride-hailing apps or bikeshare systems, which have been growing rapidly around the world.

The rise of local mapping communities

Vivien Deparday's picture
More than 150 people participated in the SotM Africa conference in 2017. (Courtesy of SotM Africa)
More than 150 people participated in the SotM Africa conference in 2017. (Courtesy of SotM Africa)

There is a unique space where you can encounter everyone from developers of self-driving cars in Silicon Valley to city planners in Niamey to humanitarian workers in Kathmandu Valley: the global OpenStreetMap (OSM) community. It comprises a geographically and experientially diverse network of people who contribute to OSM, a free and editable map of the world that is often called the “Wikipedia of maps.”  

What is perhaps most special about this community is its level playing field. Anyone passionate about collaborative mapping can have a voice from anywhere in the world. In the past few years, there has been a meteoric rise of locally organized mapping communities in developing countries working to improve the map in service of sustainable development activities.

The next opportunity to see the OSM community in action will be the November 14th mapathon hosted by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)’s Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI). Mapathons bring together volunteers to improve the maps of some of the world’s most vulnerable areas, not only easing the way for emergency responders when disaster strikes, but also helping cities and communities plan and build more resiliently for the future.

Why Disruptive Technologies Matter for Affordable Housing: The Case of Indonesia

Dao Harrison's picture

  The Case of Indonesia

Big Data. Blockchain. Drones. E-Wallets. Artificial Intelligence.
These are words that one would expect to hear at the latest conference in Silicon Valley, not during a discussion of Indonesia’s affordable housing challenges. Yet they were buzzing through the captive crowd in Jakarta at the Disruptive Technologies Workshop for Affordable Housing on September 17, 2018. The event, hosted by Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing with support from the World Bank’s National Affordable Housing Program (NAHP), was attended by 150 participants from local public agencies, developers, lenders, and community organizations. The workshop’s goal was to explore one big question: How might Indonesia harness the power of disruptive technologies to transform its housing ecosystem?   

Young innovators are turning Uganda into Wakanda

Tony Thompson's picture
Evelyn Namara, CEO of Vouch Digital, shares her entrepreneurship story during the World Bank Uganda Innovation Day Out, an event held to commemorate End Poverty Day. Vouch Digital provides digital vouchers for aid agencies. Photo: World Bank/Edgar Batte


Around the time Marvel’s Black Panther film was breaking box office records across the globe, I met with a high-ranking Ugandan official in Washington, D.C. In the middle of conversation, I asked what I needed to know as the new country manager for Uganda. He leaned over and said, “Uganda is Wakanda!”

Two very cool edtech jobs

Michael Trucano's picture
we're looking for ewe
So: We're hiring!

The World Bank is seeking to hire two people to work on research, advisory and operational activities with governments around the world, exploring the effective and appropriate use of information and communication technologies (“ICTs”) to meet a variety of objectives related to teaching and learning. These are full time positions (i.e. not consultancies), based in Washington, DC: We are especially interested in people with strong, demonstrable operational experience in the planning, management and/or implementation of large scale educational technology projects. Experience working in educational settings in low and middle-income countries and with public institutions would be ideal, especially across multiple regions of the world. These people will work as part of a small, dynamic, fast-paced ‘edtech’ team led by me and a colleague, in support of a geographically disbursed set of 22 regional World Bank staff (the 'edtech fellows') who are leading and advising on large scale education projects with ministries of education and other key stakeholder groups in middle and low income countries around the world.

If you're not familiar with the World Bank (or even if you are), here's some quick background information related to:
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Personalized learning. Laptops. Artificial intelligence. Digital textbooks. Learning to code. Having access to the best teachers and educational materials, anytime, anywhere, no matter where you are. The potential and promise of technology use in education ('edtech') is clear, even if it is often oversold.

When implemented well, educational software applications can help students to learn at their own pace. The use of devices like tablets can help children develop important digital skills and computer know-how that they’ll need to succeed in our knowledge-based economy -- and in life. Separating the hope from the hype, however, and figuring out how to put into practice what seems som compelling in theory (or in a slick presentation from a vendor touting its latest and greatest 'edtech solution') -- that's not so easy. Many potential related challenges, such as high costs, increased burdens on teachers, and many (many!) implementation difficulties, are well known and documented. Far too many high-profile technology-related education initiatives have had little measurable impact on student reading or math ability — sometimes predictably, despite the best of intentions. Technology, as the historian Melvin Kranzberg famously remarked, is neither positive nor negative -- nor is it neutral. While it is very possible that the introduction of new technologies in education can help certain groups leap ahead in ways not previously possible, if care is not taken, it is quite probable that other groups will be left (further) behind.

For better or for worse -- perhaps it's more accurate to say, for better and for worse, given this checkered track record -- countries, communities, families and learners are investing more and more in educational technology tools of all sorts. In most places around the world, the question is no longer, should we use technology in education, but rather, how can we use technology, affordably and effectively, to help prepare our children to lead healthy, happy productive lives?

More evidence is needed to better understand the impact of technology use on teaching and learning and the ways in which a variety of hardware and software tools -- as well as faster, more widespread and reliable Internet access -- can accelerate learning across the so-called 'developing world', helping children develop the foundational skills they need for success. Yet it's clear that, in too many communities around the world, 'business as usual' is not working, or not working fast enough. The world is changing, in large part due to technological advances. As a result, new approaches ('business unusual', if you will) are being considered and rolled out, and most of these involve the use of new technologies in some way. How can we ensure that we are doing this 'right', and how will we know?

These two jobs are about all of this stuff -- and more. For more specific information, please do see the full official job descriptions, which contain directions on how to apply. The closing date to apply is 28 October 2018. That's right: This Sunday! (Depending on your time zone, the exact deadline will fall on different parts of the day, so do check the job announcements to make sure you submit your information in time.)

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Introducing the online guide to the World Development Indicators: A new way to discover data on development

World Bank Data Team's picture

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the World Bank’s premier compilation of international statistics on global development. Drawing from officially recognized sources and including national, regional, and global estimates, the WDI provides access to almost 1,600 indicators for 217 economies, with some time series extending back more than 50 years. The database helps users—analysts, policymakers, academics, and all those curious about the state of the world—to find information related to all aspects of development, both current and historical.

An annual World Development Indicators report was available in print or PDF format until last year. This year, we introduce the World Development Indicators website: a new discovery tool and storytelling platform for our data which takes users behind the scenes with information about data coverage, curation, and methodologies. The goal is to provide a useful, easily accessible guide to the database and make it easy for users to discover what type of indicators are available, how they’re collected, and how they can be visualized to analyze development trends.

So, what can you do on the new World Development Indicators website?

1. Explore available indicators by theme

The indicators in the WDI are organized according to six thematic areas: Poverty and Inequality, People, Environment, Economy, States and Markets, and Global Links. Each thematic page provides an overview of the type of data available, a list of featured indicators, and information about widely used methodologies and current data challenges.


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