Engaging to build data innovation capacity in Africa

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A post by Pulse Lab Kampala manager Paula Hidalgo-Sanchis on the Lab's research, policy and advocacy activities. 

Encouraging a growing community of practice 

Since Pulse Lab Kampala opened its doors two years ago, it has become a point of reference for innovation in the region. The Lab receives regular requests to deliver presentations and to host visitors. In some cases, those who come at the Lab want to learn about groundbreaking innovations based on big data projects and tools. In others, the interest is to observe our premises and to witness how our open door, no walls policy translates into a working space where we promote a culture of open communication and knowledge sharing.  

The provenance of visitors to our Lab is as broad as the nature of their work. They range from high-level government officials to senior management at the United Nations to local entrepreneurs. In the last months, we received Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Assistant Administrator at the United Nations Development Programme and, before that, the founder of Kudu, a young US-based innovator that was keen on exploring how the data generated by the startup could be used for public good.

A few weeks ago, we hosted a colleague from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Malawi. And this month, we will host an official from the UN Department of Peacekeeping in New York and colleagues from the UNHCR Innovations Unit in Geneva. Private sector companies from South Africa, Kenya and Sweden also visit the Lab to learn about our work. 

Promoting a culture of knowledge sharing 

While there is a lot of literature and documentation around the use of data innovation for the Global Goals, there are relatively few projects beyond the pilot phase to be showcased. Pulse Lab Kampala has conducted successful pilots that are now being scaled up. For this reason, the Lab is often invited to deliver presentations at national and international conferences. Our participation has been valued in events organized by, for instance, the UN Economic Commission, the World Bank, the Government of the Republic of Korea, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

The Pulse Lab team transfers knowledge to partners on an ongoing basis with brainstorming sessions on the process of designing data innovation projects, a process that can last as long as the “implementation” phase. In the process of conceptualizing a new project, the team at the Lab builds the capacity of partners with “hands on” experience.  The Lab has conducted numerous brainstorming sessions with partners in Uganda and in other countries in the region such as Mauritius, Tanzania and Ethiopia. 

If you are interested in visiting the Lab meeting and brainstorming with us please contact us online: http://pulselabkampala.unglobalpulse.net/kampala-contact/.

Encouraging multi-stakeholder participation through validation workshops

This year, the Lab has organized two validation workshops with stakeholders. At these events, the Lab and partners present new digital applications and a dialogue is established around them. The participation of a wide range of stakeholders from private sector, government, donors, academia, UN and civil society creates unique opportunities to challenge our work and advance the innovation agenda. 

The events focused on ‘How Radio Content Can Support Monitoring and Achievement of the Global Goals’ that we hosted together with the Embassy of Sweden and ‘How can real-time analytics and data visualisation help monitor public service delivery?' that we hosted together with UNAIDS and the Ministry of Health of Uganda. 

In the first ten months of 2016 the lab has delivered 160 briefings and brainstorming sessions with a wide range of stakeholders: 

  • 47 of these meetings were with the private sector
  • 42 were with government institutions
  • 53 were with UN agencies
  • 28 were with innovations hubs and civil society

A Friday morning at Pulse Lab Kampala

To facilitate dialogue with partners and cultivate a community of practice around data innovation in Kampala, the Lab will open its doors every Friday morning to stakeholders. Book your space for a brief on our work on this link: http://pulselabkampala.unglobalpulse.net/kampala-contact/. 

Read more about the Lab’s activities to catalyze the data innovation ecosystem in the region from our most recent report

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