QCRI develops automated Geotagger for the World Bank

- Automated Geotagger geocodes all Bank-financed projects based on project documentation
- System helps geocode and map vast amounts of current, historic and pipeline project data to help better monitor and improve the impact of development assistance
- System designed in collaboration with major global aid organizations

Doha, Qatar, 19 March 2013:  Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has developed a system for the World Bank that automates the geocoding of all Bank-financed projects. The system, built by QCRI’s Data Analytics team, enables more efficient and effective labeling of the Bank’s project portfolios and places them on a map for analysis, monitoring and evaluation.
 

projects in morocco

The QCRI Geotagger system augments the World Bank’s Mapping for Results initiative, a partnership with AidData, which manually geocoded all active World Bank-financed projects in 144 countries. Mapping for Results is part of the Bank’s Open Data initiative, which allows for more transparency of its activities and access to information that promises to produce new analysis, tools and solutions to development challenges.

Patrick Meier, Director of Social Innovation at QCRI, said of the Institute’s involvement, “We have a strong social mission at QCRI and this project reflects our commitment to that mission. The Geotagger enables the World Bank and partners to turn Open Data into useable data, which will bring more transparency and accountability to the international development space. QCRI's Data Analytics team is well placed to support the World Bank's effort in making sense of this development data thanks to our advanced expertise in applied analytics research."

QCRI’s Data Analytics team has built expertise focused on researching core data management challenges such as data extraction, integration and quality, with the objective of identifying new directions and techniques for enabling the effective use of data for decision-making. Leveraging this expertise, the team developed a system to access the World Bank’s datasets, retrieve documents, extract and report relevant information on the Bank’s projects.

The system identifies locations and place names in documents from the World Bank Projects Data API using the Stanford Name Entity Recognizer and Alchemy, a text-mining platform. The place names are then geocoded using Google Geocoder, Yahoo! Placefinder and Geonames, and are visualised on a map.

The system also accesses and geocodes information from the World Bank’s procurement notices in order to compare project documents with procurement data, which has been made available for the first time in the Mapping for Results initiative. The developed system thus combines the locations with financial data to provide a holistic view on project expenses.

Aleem Walji, Director at World Bank Innovation Labs, welcomed this exciting opportunity to partner with Qatar Computing Research Institute. “Our vision is to innovate by bringing technology into World Bank projects and we hope to collaborate on other exciting project in the future,” he said.

Since the launch of Mapping for Results, three generations of interns read many thousands of pages of World Bank project documentation, safeguard documents, and results reports to identify and geocode exact project locations. Though very successful, the initiative had encompassed only the active projects due to its heavy reliance on manpower.

The automation and effectiveness provided by QCRI’s Geotagger system also enables the geocoding and mapping of historic projects, allowing researchers to look at the evolving World Bank portfolio from a new, more disaggregated and spatial angle.

“QCRI’s Geotagger tool will be a huge help to AidData and the Open Aid Partnership in geocoding other donors’ project portfolios,” said Stephen Davenport, Co-Executive Director of AidData and Senior Director for Innovation at the Development Gateway. Looking forward towards future projects with Qatar Computing Research Institute, he continued, “We hope to explore opportunities around automatically identifying the sector activities of development projects and crawling the web for project-specific sources of development finance information.”

Brad Parks, AidData's Co-Executive Director at the College of William & Mary in the US, noted, "the Geotagger tool will support AidData's efforts - through a new partnership with USAID and its Higher Education Solutions Network - to generate geospatial aid information and decision support tools that help development finance institutions make smarter policy and programming decisions."


END

For more information, please contact:
Kimberly Mathern
QCRI Communications Manager
Office: +(974) 4454 2515
Mobile:  +(974) 6645 5177
Email: kmathern@qf.org.qa

Stephen Davenport
Co-Executive Director of AidData
Development Gateway
Tel: +1.202.572.9284
Email: sdavenport@developmentgateway.org
Twitter: @davenportsteve

Rachel Winter Jones
Senior Communications Officer
World Bank Institute
Tel: (202) 473-1920
Email:  rjones1@worldbank.org


About QCRI
Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) was established in 2010 by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a private, non-profit organization that is supporting Qatar’s transformation from a hydrocarbon-based economy to knowledge-based economy.

QCRI supports Qatar Foundation’s mission to build Qatar’s innovation and technology capacity by focusing on large-scale computing challenges that address national priorities for growth and development.

In doing this, QCRI conducts world-class multidisciplinary computing research that is relevant to the needs of Qatar, the wider Arab region, and the world. It performs cutting-edge research in such areas as Arabic language technologies, social computing, data analytics, and cloud computing.

The research conducted at QCRI is aligned with the Qatar National Research Strategy and supports the strategic priorities outlined in the Qatar National Vision 2030.  For more information, please visit www.qcri.qa.

About AidData
AidData—a joint initiative of Development Gateway, the College of William & Mary, and Brigham Young University—is a global leader in the provision of reliable, timely, and detailed information about foreign assistance projects. AidData tracks more than $5.5 trillion dollars from 90 donor agencies, undertakes cutting-edge research on aid distribution and impact, oversees efforts to geocode and crowdsource aid information, and develops web and mobile applications and custom data solutions for development finance institutions.

In November 2012, AidData entered into a five year partnership with USAID, through its Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), to address a critical information gap that confounds efforts to effectively deliver foreign assistance:  the absence of sub-nationally geocoded aid data.  Through this partnership, the AidData Center for Development Policy will create high-resolution geospatial data and decision support tools that enable the global development community to more effectively target, coordinate, monitor, and evaluate overseas aid investments.

For more information about AidData and the AidData Center for Development Policy, please visit www.aiddata.org.  For more information about USAID's Higher Education Solutions Network, please visit http://www.usaid.gov/hesn.

About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is made up of five unique international development institutions owned by 187 member countries: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) together with the International Development Association (IDA) — widely known as the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each of these World Bank Group institutions plays a different, but collaborative role in advancing the vision of inclusive and sustainable economic growth in a globalized world. The IBRD aims to support growth in middle-income countries and reduce poverty in creditworthy poorer countries, while the IDA focuses on the world’s poorest states.
 
Tags: guest postgeo-referencingInnovation