UN initiative mines big data to direct development

Written by Jan Piotrowski, found on Thomson Reuters foundation, originally on SciDev.net:

“Analysing vast sets of digital data from social media activity, phone records and Internet search behaviours can make development activities more effective by providing decision-makers with fast and actionable information on current events, according to a UN initiative.

Tools that measure the frequency of keywords found on online posts or the patterns of mobile-phone use can give a real-time snapshot of peoples’ current environment, says Anoush Tatevossian, spokeswoman at UN Global Pulse, a UN initiative set up to research ways to use big data for development.

The insights from such data may include food prices, prevalence ofdisease and social attitudes towards interventions such as vaccination programmes, Tatevossian says.

“As technology becomes more user-friendly, there is a real opportunity for digital data analysis to have a significant impact on development,” she tells SciDev.Net.”

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