This Week: Tapping Further Into the Data Landscape

(Global Voices)

The question of how strong of an ethical framework when collecting data is, indeed, strong enough has been a thought that is pressing across the Open Data landscape. What happens if you already have all of the data? Earlier last week, SciDev released their monthly podcast entitled “Tapping into Data.” In this series of interviews, SciDev hosts learn about the origins of this “Big Data” and the problems researchers face while collecting this data—ranging from privacy debates to logistical shortfalls.

In the final interview of the podcast, SciDev hosts turn to AidData’s very own Vanessa Goas—an AidData Field Operations Manager. In her interview Goas dives into the behind the scenes processes which make data collection useful to the rest of the world--in particular, the process of Geocoding. For, those of you who may not know, is the geographical pinpointing of aid projects throughout the world. By geocoding aid projects, AidData has the ability to pinpoint the flow of millions of dollars of foreign aid that gets transferred annually to developing countries. By doing so, we have the ability to figure out where areas might be under or even over served with funding thus, allowing countries to find the most effective ways to allocate aid to areas that need it the most.

Of course, we can’t forget that there are always two sides to every transaction. Sure we can collect data for years and years to come but none of that matters if the countries receiving this data are not willing to make it as available to the World as possible. For this reason, Big Data is only truly effective in countries that have pledged a willingness to allow transparency within their governments. It is only through this transparency that we can know the extent of the legitimacy of the data we collect. The more legitimate and transparent the data, the more useful and available the information will be to the citizens who need it the most.

So what does all of this mean to everyone else? In order to truly make the success of Geocoding and Big Data a reality, we must make it as easy to use and as available to the general public as absolutely possible. In order to do this, we must work to shine a light on the importance of government transparency. For example, in light of the recently celebrated Open Data Day, countries across the globe from Kosovo to Central and South American countries such as Argentina, the movement is clearly visible.

To find out more about Vanessa Goas and her work in Geocoding, follow the link here to learn all about the fascinating world of Geocoding 101!

Project Pulse Project-In-Focus

This Week we are featuring the 17th Project in Focus of the Project Pulse series: Sierra Leone's GoBifo Project (“forge ahead” in Krio). This project was supported by the World Bank and the Japan Social Development Fund in 2009 to strengthen social capital through capacity-building at the community level.  The project also aims to strengthen the relationship between villages and wards so as to make decision-making processes more grassroots and inclusive.

Madeleine Terry is a Senior at the College of William and Mary and is interning with the Policy and Communications Team during the Spring ‘15 semester. Project Pulse Project-in-Focus updates are written by Katie Paulson-Smith, Assistant to the Co-Executive Director and based at the College of William and Mary.

Tags: open dataOpen Data DaySciDevBig Datageocodingproject pulse