The world is changing fast—and so must our approaches to persistent development issues.
What matters now is not how much data we have, but rather what can we do with all of it.
That’s why for our big data for development exploration journey we are looking to harness these new sources of data to improve services – from disaster risk management, unemployment tracking and reduction, to migration and poverty.
Our approach involves two main components:
1) Reviewing existing big data projects and producing a guidebook to support the design of big data projects; and
2) Ensuring that country offices get hands-on experience in developing and implementing big data projects.
We are fortunate to have a strong partner in UN Global Pulse, whose projects range from real-time e-pricing of bread to using mobile phone data and airtime credit purchases to estimate food security. UN Global Pulse will leverage its previous experience and expertise in providing advisory support to the proposed big data/mobile phone innovation projects in selected country offices.
We will cooperate with the UNV programme and through their Online Volunteering service to tap into the expertise of volunteers in the field of data (e.g. data scientists, data privacy professionals and data engineers).
Six offices in Europe, Central Asia and the Arab States are joining us on our quest:
1. The Macedonian team thinks that the way people use their phones can tell us a lot about what type of risks they are exposed to and may give us clues on how to reduce them.
2. Armenia colleagues want to establish a climate change early warning system by creating a network of sensors that collect environmental data (humidity, air pressure, noise, etc.)
3. The Kosovo team intends to examine emergency calls in order to analyse their geospatial and time distribution, identifying the patterns of demand for emergency services, mapping hotspots and historical trends.
4. The Sudan team will explore whether electricity usage can function as a proxy indicator for socio-economic analysis.
5. Our colleagues from Egypt are interested in analysing data deriving from the government for various purposes.
6. The big data aficionados in Tunisia want to improve governance through big data analysis for better sustainable development goals.
Stay tuned as we dive in!
Be sure to follow #UNDP4Future on Twitter for regular updates on the ongoing big data for development experiments!
 References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).