This Week: Fighting Ebola, One Data Entry at a Time / Project Pulse Week Six

Screenshot of TradeMapper (Aptivate)

Maybe it’s just me, but the hysteria over Ebola seems to be far greater than any other contagion-type scenario we’ve been through of late (or I’ve just become more cognizant of the fact that I’m a little bit older, and death is that much closer). And that includes the swine flu which killed somewhere around 14,000-18,000 people, and infected 1 out of 5 people globally, while Ebola so far has seen around 5,000 deaths. If only we can focus our apprehension into finding ways to better combat humanitarian crisis such as this. Here’s one way we can work to improve responses:

Every disaster struggles with the effort it takes to manage, track, and effectively deploy and coordinate the large amount of support that comes in to handle the crisis. It was true in Haiti, and in a myriad of other situations. The Ebola crisis is no different. NextGov TechInsider talks about how, “A cohesive and well-developed open data preparedness framework allows for the most accurate and necessary information to be distributed promptly in the wake of a disaster, facilitating expedient communication between all affected parties.”

CGD pointed out that even though UN OCHA’s Financial Tracking service publishes donor contributions to fighting Ebola, the numbers seem to fall short of what has been reported via the news. Again, this points out the need for better information on donor contributions during humanitarian crisis. Such information could help overwhelmed and overstressed governments better manage the many efforts of those trying to help and potentially avoid the errors that can come with ‘too many cooks in the kitchen.’

When trying to figure out which cooks are in the kitchen, Aptivate recently added contract data from Development Gateway’s dgMarket to make the interactive TradeMapper which allows you to see where countries are contracting from. While just a proof-of-concept right now, it shows the potential that open contracting data can have.

But when is data most useful? When it allows people and organizations to make better, more informed decisions to improve efficacy, improve results, and improve lives. One such example is how a little data science allowed the microfinance organization, Zidisha, to reduce the number of fraudulent loan applicants. This not only decreases the waste of money spent on individuals seeking a quick dollar, but as more individuals pay back loans, faith in the system is increased, and popularity of providing this type of microfinance likely grows and funds become increasingly available for those seeking small loans. Thus we see improved lives, better results and more efficiency stemming from a good look at data that was already available to them.

Project Pulse Project In Focus: Week Six

Today we are featuring the sixth Project in Focus of the Project Pulse series: Disaster Risk Management and Reconstruction.  This initiative was started in 2011 after Haiti was hit by a decade of severe natural disasters, including major tropical storms, a hurricane, and an earthquake that affected several million people.  In partnership with the Government of Haiti, the World Bank directed this funding to natural hazard risk assessment and analysis, enhanced disaster preparedness and emergency response, rehabilitation of vulnerable and damaged critical transport, and emergency response and recovery.

Weekly updates are written by Taryn Davis of Development Gateway; email her your tips for next week's update to get a shout-out in the post. Project Pulse profiles are written by Katie Paulson-Smith, Special Assistant to AidData's Co-Executive Director and based at the College of William & Mary.

Tags: eboladevelopment aidnextgovochaUNdevelopment gatewaydgMarketproject pulseHaitidisaster aidrisk managementWorld Bank