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March 2010

DM2009 Siberia Winner Reports on Indigenous Peoples' Progress

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 40 Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and Far East in Russia have had to struggle mightily -- not only against a hostile environment but also what they see as sometimes arbitrary governmental action. But they're making fresh progress, according to this emailed report from DM2009 winner Rodion Sulyandziga (holding award in photo at right), Director of the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), which has spearheaded recognition and -- more important practically -- enforcement of Indigenous Peoples' rights:

 

"On April 14-15 in Moscow the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) -- the umbrella organization that includes CSIPN -- will be hosting (in partnership with the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation) the Arctic Indigenous Leaders Summit, with the main focus on climate change in the Arctic. The participants are international experts, academia, Arctic states, regional governments, business, and Indigenous Peoples. The Summit will create a good basis for our future activities and networking. It's vital for us to involve federal, regional governments, and business from the scratch.

"We are also invited to the high-level international meeting "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue" on April 22-23 under Russian Premier Putin to make a presentation on behalf of Indigenous Peoples. This is a good progress."

Geography and Aid

Soren Gigler's picture

Why can’t international donors and project managers think more in terms of the geography and location of their programs? Last week the Aiddata conference in Oxford discussed new approaches to enhance aid transparency and donor coordination. Key issues many panelists discussed were:

 

  1. To what extent aid flows are responsive to local needs?
  2. How to enhance the social accountability of development aid?
  3. How to improve the impact of aid on improving the well-being of poor communities?

The next Generation Web: Greater Choice and Voice for Citizens?

Aleem Walji's picture

 

 

Last Monday, Gordon Brown delivered a speech in which he laid out a fascinating and bold vision for how Britain could lead the world in knowledge industries and create a quarter of a million skilled jobs within 10 years. What I found most interesting in his remarks was how he linked leadership in the digital economy to leadership in public service delivery and increasing “voice and choice for citizens”.

Underlying his message was his palpable excitement in the next generation of the web: the semantic web or the web of linked data. The semantic web is a relatively new term popularized by the British scientist and early founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. Tim suggest that the web of linked data has the potential to transform the way we manage knowledge, make decisions, and understand relationships between previously unconnected phenomena. Nearly a year ago, speaking at a TED conference in California, Tim issued a call to action to public agencies and data aggregators – Free Data Now. He argued that only by freeing data into easily searchable and downloadable formats could we expose relationships between issues like housing and crime, access to water and race, or government spending and the quality of public services. From the perspective of international development institutions, imagine if we could see relationships between aid flows and poverty or even poverty at a sub-national level (say through maps) and where development projects are located in a particular country?

Innovation as a response to scarcity

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

I am an aggie who is passionate about land use. When I started working at the Development Marketplace in 2008, I had the great good fortune to be starting a job that focused on my two favorite things as an international development specialist; grassroots responses to development challenges and agriculture. Because my first DM competition was on Sustainable Agriculture, I was in seventh heaven.

DM teams in Latin America collaborating for greater impact

Tom Grubisich's picture

From the High Andes of Peru  --  Ann Kendall, project leader of the DM2009 winning project to restore ancient, water-conserving mountain terraces in a poor agricultural community in Peru, reports in an email:


"I have had a very interesting and productive meeting and exchange with one of the other Peruvian DM winners, Association Andes, with Alejandro Agumedo, who approached us and would like us to join them in planning an international seminar focused on the traditional terrace systems....Funds for this will have to be sought, which I believe they are planning to do!   Cusichaca Trust [Kendall's group] and Association Andes have had, in 2006, the experience of putting on a national conference in Lima, bringing highland communities in from previous local events to meet with researchers, academics, and NGOs, which was very successful.  AA envisages organising an event bringing people from China, Asia, etc....We welcome this collaboration."

'Open' Vs. 'Public' Data -- The Big Difference

Tom Grubisich's picture

You can have access to terabytes of "public" data, but it may be next to useless.  That was one of the lessons of the recent "Aid Challenge 2010" Data Camp at the World Bank Institute which explored ways to use data to make development aid more effective.

Doug Hadden, Vice President/Products at the financial management software company FreeBalance, explained:


"The major difference between open and public data is [that with open data] you have the ability to re-use it.  Data in document format is effectively useless.  By making [data] open...people can analyze, compare, and benchmark it, and find patterns that you did not realize."


The day-long event -- a mixture of BarCamp, ignite talk, and hackathon -- brought together developers, data producers and visualizers, and practitioners and other members of the development community to give a big push to the gathering effort to bring more transparency to what governments do in their aid development programs.

Dot.Gov as a Listening Device

Aleem Walji's picture

A couple of nights ago, I went to listen to Anil Dash, founder of Experts Labs in Washington, DC. The title of the talk intrigued me. How Dot.Gov is the new Dot.com. 

Given my interest in Open Government and Transparency, I assumed Anil would talk about new business models and how the private sector is well positioned to create social and economic value from datasets that public bodies release. But I was entirely wrong. Although I believe strongly that clean and comparable datasets are an essential raw material for the visualization and creative community to create powerful citizen-facing apps, Anil's point was entirely different and more powerful. 

The two-way or interactive web that surfaced around 2004 in the private sector was about a fundamentally new way of interacting with users. It provided businesses an opportunity to dialogue with customers and listen to users' comments, needs, and feedback in much more efficient ways. 

Aid Transparency Data Camp-Students for Development

Soren Gigler's picture

How can we better track aid flows? Which donor is working where in the DRC, Afghanistan, CAR, Peru  or Bolivia? How can we better analyze the spatial distribution of aid flows within countries?  How can we use mobile telephony to enhance the social accountability of international aid programs?  These were some of the questions 45 students from the College of William & Mary, Georgetown University and George Washington addressed during the aid transparency data camp which we organized jointly with the Aiddata Initiative last Monday, March 8.

Innovation Fair: What Happened, What Happens Next...

Here's an update on the new Innovation Fair: The on-line competition which has been running for the last 3 weeks officially closed at midnight on Sunday March 7. The response received, especially given the short time, surpassed our expectations with over 1900 registered users and 223 submitted projects from over 40 countries. Ideas ranged  from innovative uses of crowdsourcing to map peace in Kenya to tools that can improve governance in Haiti in post-earthquake recovery. The participation has been a truly global one with entries from conflict-affected countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burundi, and those from countries that, per se, are not considered conflict-affected but still experience some of the same issues such as youth violence. What impressed me most was the dialogue that sprang up among many of the users -- exchanging ideas on how to replicate one project in a different context, how to improve an idea based on experience and in same cases, simply words of encouragement.

It was this same crowd of users that through their votes selected the proposals that were passed on to be now reviewed by a panel of experts composed by World Bank and International Finance Corporation staff, academics and practitioners. All proposals that received 8 votes and up made it to the second stage this time and are now being reviewed by the panel of experts that will select the 30 projects that will make it to the Fair in South Africa. The list of 30 selected projects will be posted on the innovation radar platform next Wednesday, March 17. Thanks to everyone who's contributed and for the great ideas you send in -- this is a pilot and we are already learning how to do this even better next time!
 

How 'Big Data' Can Benefit the Public Good

Aleem Walji's picture

Patrick Svenburg, co-founder of Random Hacks of Kindness, tells "Developers for Development" audience: "There's no shortage of big ideas in the world.  It's the action part that's often lacking."


“Big Data” –- the billions upon trillions of bytes of digital information that are pumped into cyberspace every nanosecond –- has a single, secular mission: to keep growing. Now, software developers – the not-so-nerdy techies who keep Big Data growing at its feverish rate –- are striving to channel Big Data into the public good.

On Monday at the World Bank, developers came together with the development community -- in person and virtually through Skype video -- to figure out how to do that.

The entire "Developers for Development" can be seen on B-Span, the World Bank's webcasting service.

The afternoon event, which attracted an auditorium-ful of in-person visitors (many of them curious staffers from risk management and ICT at the World Bank) and many more via the live webcast that was offered in English, French, and Spanish, started with developers showing what's already been achieved since the first CrisisCamp about data and the public good was convened in Washington with CrisisCommons-World Bank co-sponsorship in June 2009.

The first demo was about the on-the-fly proliferation of CrisisCamps internationally in response to the earthquake that devastated Haiti in February.

When Innovation Fails

Edith Wilson's picture

I’ve been having some interesting conversations with some of our favorite people like Mari Kuraishi, Jim Koch and Marla Capozzi, about a topic we don’t probe much in development: what we do with an innovative project fails.

In Silicon Valley, as Mari and Marla reminded me lately, you earn your spurs trying and failing. It is almost easier to get funding if you have failed a few times. Venture capital firms assume you learned some valuable things in the process. It’s a credential. But in development? Failing with a donor’s money? Even when you said you were piloting something or trying something new? Surely you failed because you didn’t get the job done, weren’t smart enough, or ran into politics.