Big Data to Address Global Development Challenges (Paper Series)

Jul 26 2022

Four research papers were developed in collaboration with and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) between 2016 and 2019 under a joint program with Data-Pop Alliance and research partners (Cloud to Street, Flowminder, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab) titled “Strengthening the evidence-base for leveraging Big Data to address global development challenges”. This research program and papers were designed with the following objectives and criteria in mind: to focus on various development challenges in different local contexts in order to ensure relevance; to work with trusted partners, so as to ensure academic quality; and to both reflect and promote key determinants of sustainable development, including smoother, fairer and safer access to data and stronger links between analysts, local decision-makers, and communities. Individually, these papers outlined specific cases and examples of how computational analysis of behavioral data (combined with other datasets) can paint a finer-grained, more complex and dynamic picture of human reality than ‘traditional’ data allows. Collectively, they sketched the contours of a world where public decisions, in the form of policies and programs, may someday be designed, implemented, and evaluated using the best available data and approaches.