The Second “Data for Development” (D4D) Challenge in Africa

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In 2012, global telecommunications company Orange launched its first "Data for Development Challenge" (D4D) to catalyze research into how anonymized and aggregated mobile network data, sourced through Orange’s local subsidiary in Côte D’Ivoire, could be applied to gain new insights on socio-economic development issues in the country.
The challenge marked the first time a large database of mobile network data was opened to the international scientific community for use in research for social impact. It generated an overwhelming response, with over 80 research teams from the world’s leading academic institutions submitting high caliber projects that demonstrated how analysis of mobile phone data can be used to address a wide spectrum of development challenges from poverty mapping and disease to spread modeling and transportation optimization.
Following last year's success, Orange and Sonatel, in partnership with UN Global Pulse, the Gates Foundation, GSMA, Paris21, the World Economic Forum, MIT, Catholic University of Louvain, UC Santa Barbara, and Université Cheik Anta Diop de Dakar, have launched a second edition of the D4D challenge, this time with a focus on Senegal.  
In collaboration with relevant Ministries in Senegal and partner institutions, the D4D organisers have defined five research themes for the challenge: 

*Each of the links above provides detail on the issue area within the context of Senegal, and offers suggested priority research topics that contribute to the development and welfare of the Senegalese population.

Five prizes (one prize per theme) will be awarded in the form of an endowment for exploring the operational feasibility and moving forward in their implementation. This endowment will be used to make progress in the implementation of the results through applications and operational services.

The organizers are also taking the opportunity to promote development of methods and techniques in big data research, and will be awarding prizes to projects that demonstrate advancements in anonymization, data mining, data visualization and cross-matching.

Sonatel and Orange are making anonymous data, extracted from the mobile network in Senegal, as well as data on hours of sunshine, available to research teams. More specifically, the following data sets will be made available:
  • communications between antenna tower
  • a sample of movement routes: location by mast
  • a sample of movement routes: location by administrative unit
  • synthetic data set
  • weather data
Mobile phone data analysis is increasingly proving its value for sustainable development. Our primer, Mobile Phone Network for Development, presents a few examples. The Orange Data for Development Challenge has already proven to be a great opportunity to get access to such data and harness its power for public good, as well as to strengthen the case for Data Philanthropy.
Development organisations are strongly encouraged to apply with projects related to their focus areas, and can use this portal to team up with academic groups with expertise in data science to conduct research or execute the projects.
The Challenge is now open for applications.  
For more information about the D4D Challenge, or to register, visit Orange’s Data for Development (D4D) Challenge website.


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