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Good Open Data. . . by design

Victoria L. Lemieux's picture

An unprecedented number of individuals and organizations are finding ways to explore, interpret and use Open Data. Public agencies are hosting Open Data events such as meetups, hackathons and data dives. The potential of these initiatives is great, including support for economic development (McKinsey, 2013), anti-corruption (European Public Sector Information Platform, 2014) and accountability (Open Government Partnership, 2012). But is Open Data's full potential being realized?

Data ambassadors wrapping up at
DataDive2013. Photo:
Carlos Teodoro Linares Carvalho.

A news item from Computer Weekly casts doubt. A recent report notes that, in the United Kingdom (UK), poor data quality is hindering the government's Open Data program. The report goes on to explain that – in an effort to make the public sector more transparent and accountable – UK public bodies have been publishing spending records every month since November 2010. The authors of the report, who conducted an analysis of 50 spending-related data releases by the Cabinet Office since May 2010, found that that the data was of such poor quality that using it would require advanced computer skills.

Far from being a one-off problem, research suggests that this issue is ubiquitous and endemic. Some estimates indicate that as much as 80 percent of the time and cost of an analytics project is attributable to the need to clean up "dirty data" (Dasu and Johnson, 2003).

Global child mortality rate dropped 49% since 1990

Emi Suzuki's picture
Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Español | Français

The under-5 mortality rate worldwide has fallen by 49% since 1990, according to new child mortality estimates and press release launched today. This information is also summarized in the report Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2014 by the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME).  Put another way, about 17,000 fewer children under-5 died each day in 2013 than in 1990.

These rates are falling faster than at any other time during the past two decades: from a 1.2% annual reduction during 1990-1995 to a 4% reduction during 2005-2013. 

More children making it to their fifth birthday
The major improvements in under-5 child survival since 1990 are attributable to better access to affordable, quality health care, as well as the expansion of health programs that reach the most vulnerable newborns and children.

The 49% drop – from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 46 deaths in 2013 – means that a baby born today has a dramatically better chance of survival to age 5 compared with a baby born in 1990.   

More progress needed to achieve the global Millennium Development Goal 4 target
Four out of 6 World Bank Group regions are on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), which is to reduce the under-5 mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.  Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are two regions where the rates of decline remain insufficient to reach MDG 4 on a global scale.  In 2013, the highest under-5 mortality rate was in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there were 92 deaths per 1,000 live births or where 1 in 11 children die before reaching the age of 5.

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International Literacy Day: what recent youth literacy data tell us

Paige Morency-Notario's picture

As a former public school teacher, I have a special place in my heart for literacy issues.  I know first-hand both the joy of reading with children and the very real pains that struggling with literacy can leave on a child’s life.

In light of my professional exposure to this topic and the fact that yesterday was International Literacy Day, I decided to take a look at the World Bank’s literacy data to get an idea of how literacy rates worldwide are progressing or still facing challenges. 
The theme of this year’s International Literacy Day 2014 is “Literacy and Sustainable Development.”  For developing countries in particular, literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development as it empowers people to make the right decisions in the areas of educational growth and socioeconomic development.

Open data on the ground: Kenya’s Data Science

Samuel Lee's picture
How are individuals and organizations taking advantage of the data that governments are publishing? This is part of a series looking at how data are being used for social good.  Last time we covered Nigeria’s Follow the Money Initiative, this time we’re heading to East Africa.

In Kenya, Data Science, LTD (www.datascience.co.ke) is a data analysis and research company providing services to government, local organizations, and businesses. The company seeks to promote greater understanding and use of available data to gain insights for better planning, resource allocation, and entrepreneurship.  This blog post is based on a recent Google Hangout discussion with Data Science, LTD founder Linet Kwamboka.

So what is it like being a data analysis company in Kenya, and what can others learn from Linet’s experience?

Open data roots 
Linet worked on the World Bank supported opendata.go.ke as a project manager in the lead up to the initiative's launch in 2011.  The company works with clients seeking to utilize data to make better decisions.  They include private companies involved in marketing, jobs, retail, and consumer products. With government and civil society clients, the focus is to improve decision-making that lead to better public services and advocacy efforts.

Overcoming gaps in data
Linet has learned that the tasks of sourcing, analyzing, and transforming data into more readily consumed and actionable forms can take a significant amount of effort and time.  In many situations, the data simply do not exist or are out of date.  
 

Taking a closer look at youth-related data: regional trends, differences

Hiroko Maeda's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Español | Français | العربية

August 12 marked the 15th anniversary of International Youth Day, which got me thinking – what kind of data do we have on young people?  The United Nations defines youth as the population aged 15-24.

This is a group that is in a transition period from childhood to adulthood.  Since this period (ages 15-24) affects adulthood more directly than childhood, youth-related data can provide insights into how we can better address their future opportunities and challenges.

"The potential possibilities of any child are the most intriguing and stimulating in all creation."
– Ray Wilbur, American educator



​Where are the highest concentrations of young people?

In 2013, people who were born between 1989 and 1998 accounted for 17% of the world's total population – 1.2 billion. While the world's population continues to grow, the youth population has declined gradually after it peaked in 2010.  The youth population in high-income countries decreased by 6 million between 2010 and 2013, a reflection of the aging population trend in this income group.

The Data Minute: What is Inequality of Opportunity?

Tariq Khokhar's picture

What happens when a person’s potential to succeed in life is simply determined by the lottery of birth?  We call this Inequality of Opportunity.  Characteristics like gender, economic circumstances, geography, and ethnicity can trap large groups of people in poverty, and specifically affect access to basic services among children.  Watch this video to learn more about Inequality of Opportunity -- what it is, how we measure it, and where you can find more information.

The Data Minute: What is Inequality of Opportunity?

 

Does Your Country Export What It Should?

Siddhesh Kaushik's picture

Customs reforms have made trade easier in Georgia. Photo - Irakli Tabagari / World Bank.One of the core principles of trade economics is that of “comparative advantage.” First described by David Ricardo, the theory says that countries are best off if they specialize in products that they can make relatively more efficiently – with lower opportunity cost – than other countries. If this happens, the theory goes, global welfare will increase. This concept is more difficult than it sounds, however – as Paul Krugman has pointed out quite eloquently – and benefits from illustration.

Basketball genius Michael Jordan stars in one example sometimes used in textbooks and classrooms: If Jordan mows his lawn faster than anyone else in the neighborhood, he has anabsolute advantage in lawn mowing. But that doesn’t mean that he should mow his neighbor John Smith’s lawn, because that would come at an opportunity cost: in the same two hours it would take Jordan to cut the grass, he could earn much more by playing basketball or making a commercial.

While it is difficult to measure comparative advantage in world trade, one indicator is something called “Revealed Comparative Advantage” (RCA). This is a measure of how a country’s exports compare to those of a bigger group, such as a region or the rest of the world. For example, if a country’s RCA in wheat is high (typically greater than one), that means wheat makes up a higher share of that country’s total exports than it does of the world’s exports. This suggests that that country is a more efficient wheat-producer than the average country.

But countries don’t always produce the products in which they have a revealed comparative advantage. Sometimes Michael Jordan mows the lawn. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples from this new data visualization tool.

Open data on the ground: Nigeria’s Follow the Money initiative

Sandra Moscoso's picture

Follow the Money (http://followthemoneyng.org/) is a community action organization that leverages open budget and aid spending data from the Nigerian government and its aid partners.  The organization also advocates for specific issues that impact communities, most recently, in the Zamfara State. 
 
Follow the Money activists collect, publish, and visualize data, then connect findings to national and global social media networks in order to bring government attention to crises on the ground that require resources or immediate action. Once visualized, the data become a resource for citizens in affected communities to track government expenditures against actual outcomes.  
 
The team has tackled issues like lead poisoning, flood relief, and most recently, education. They also host partners with other organizations, like Indigo Trust U.K. to offer regular data literacy events for other non-profits, journalists, government officials, legal professionals, and open data activists.
 

What exactly is the US Government’s Digital Services Playbook?

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 9.23.05 AM.png

US Digital Services Playbook on Github

The White House launched a new “US Digital Service” yesterday - a small team of of word-class technology experts tasked with working with other government agencies to improve the design and delivery of digital services. This is a similar idea to the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) which has succeeded in bringing into government the technology approaches once found only in the more dynamic elements of the private sector.  What are these approaches?

The Digital Services Playbook

The playbook outlines 13 specific strategies that draw on successful best practice from the private sector that, if followed together, “help government build effective digital services.” The plays are:

  1. Understand what people need
  2. Address the whole experience, from start to finish
  3. Make it simple and intuitive
  4. Build the service using agile and iterative practices
  5. Structure budgets and contracts to support delivery
  6. Assign one leader and hold that person accountable
  7. Bring in experienced teams
  8. Choose a modern technology stack
  9. Deploy in a flexible hosting environment
  10. Automate testing and deployments
  11. Manage security and privacy through reusable processes
  12. Use data to drive decisions
  13. Default to open

As with the GDS’ 10 Design Principles, I like the clarity with which these are explained,  and that the entire playbook is published on Github, and open for public comment and collaboration. I’d recommend taking a few minutes to read it and think about how many of the approaches your government or institution uses.

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