“Big Data for Development: Opportunities & Challenges”: A Global Pulse White Paper

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Global Pulse is pleased to publish a new White Paper, entitled “Big Data for Development: Opportunities & Challenges.”

Innovations in technology and greater affordability of digital devices worldwide have ushered in an Age of “Big Data,” an umbrella term for the explosion in the quantity and diversity of high frequency digital data. This digital data is being produced, in real-time, at an unprecedented rate, even across the developing world. In addition, advances in computing and data science make it possible to process and analyze Big Data in real-time. But can it be useful for development, and enhancing resilience to global shocks? Can the innovations from data science and tech be applied to the field of development? If so, how?

The paper aims to highlight the opportunity, as well as some of the main concerns and challenges, raised by the opportunity of utilizing new, digital data sources in the field of international development, as concretely and openly as possible.

The paper is structured to foster dialogue around some of the following issues:

  • What types of new, digital data sources are potentially useful to the field of international development?
  • What kind of analytical tools, methodologies for analyzing Big Data have already been tried and tested by academia and the private sector, which could have utility for the public sector?
  • What challenges are posed by the potential of using digital data sources (Big Data) in development work?
  • What are some specific applications of Big Data in the field of global development?
  • How can we chart a way forward?

It is important to recognize that Big Data and real-time analytics are no modern panacea for age-old development challenges. That said, the diffusion of data science to the realm of international development nevertheless constitutes a genuine opportunity to bring powerful new tools to the fight against poverty, hunger and disease.

View a summary of the paper’s key points in our library:

IMAGE: A visualization representing global Google search volume, by language. Developed by and courtesy of the Google Data Arts Team.

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News, thoughts and ideas about big data and AI, data privacy and ethics from across the Pulse Lab Network. Read more on the blog.

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