HunchWorks is the world's first social network for hypothesis formation, evidence collection, and collective decision-making.
HunchWorks is based on the recognition that all too often, by the time we have hard evidence of what is happening, it's too late to act. Yet after a crisis, experts inevitably point to fragmentary evidence that was available early on but was so inconclusive at the time that no one was willing to sound the alarm publicly.
HunchWorks allows researchers to connect with other experts with complementary resources so that together they could quickly determine if data signals—those fragmentary bits of evidence—are indications of deepening crisis and warrant further investigation.
Why HunchWorks Works
Using HunchWorks, a researcher who noticed an anomaly in data that she suspects is related to impending crises would quietly compose a hunch outlining her concerns. After attaching relevant evidence, she would have shared it informally through the system, where it would be visible only to a trusted network of expert colleagues in relevant communities of practice. Her colleagues might in turn have brought in additional evidence supporting or refuting her conclusion, provided feedback about her observations, and suggested other experts to invite into the conversation.
HunchWorks essentially allows the researcher to gather evidence, analyze data and be peer reviewed—all at once. The result is that it speeds up analysis of data so that, as quickly as possible, policy makers could have access to any actionable information the data holds.
HunchWorks is a tool that enables researchers to test their ideas with the goal of moving (as quickly as possible) from hunch, to proof, to action.
HunchWorks will feature connectors with four main system types: social media, to rapidly create user networks; data repositories, to give users access to data; tool repositories, to give users access to tools that generate, analyse and visualize data; and project mapping systems, to direct the information generated on the platforms to the decision makers who can act on it.
One of the things that makes HunchWorks more than just a social system is the way it will handle big data feeds, especially in the context of Global Pulse's work where time is a valuable commodity. The big question is how we can best combine human knowledge and insight with automated searches and analysis. HunchWorks will support users to fill in the gaps where data streams are large and unwieldy.
HunchWorks users will benefit from the Global Pulse Toolset, a collection of data gathering, analysis and visualization tools to link them to HunchWorks and other Global Pulse/UN technology systems. The toolset will contain a "recipe manager" that suggest which tools and data types could be used together, allowing a user who is not a data specialist to select and link together useful combinations and data types.
Due to the global nature of UN work, with critical work being done in places where bandwidth is limited and sometimes nonexistent—and where mobile phones are more ubiquitous than computers—the current iteration of HunchWorks will eventually be part of a federated network of HunchWorks platforms that can cope with low bandwidth and intermittent or lost communications links.
HunchWorks will stimulate knowledge sharing and debate by recognizing when discrete groups of experts are working on the same issues and informing them of each other's existence. It will also have integrated security measures to address issues such as users who no longer trust each other (and therefore no longer want to collaborate on hunches), or users who want to hide or undo hunches.
HunchWorks aims to use social networks to create a human lens on big data, accelerating both collection of evidence and collective action.
In an age of increasing global volatility and complex crises, we believe a tool like HunchWorks could help development experts around the world assemble the puzzle pieces faster and respond to vulnerable populations sooner.