Data for Good Collaboration


Research Report by Swinburne University of Technology’s Social Innovation Research Institute: “…partnered with the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Entertainment Assist, Good Cycles and Yooralla Disability Services, to create the data for good collaboration. The project had two aims: – Build organisational data capacity through knowledge sharing about data literacy, expertise and collaboration – Deliver data insights through a methodology of collaborative data analytics This report presents key findings from our research partnership, which involved the design and delivery of a series of webinars that built data literacy; and participatory data capacity-building workshops facilitated by teams of social scientists and data scientists. It also draws on interviews with participants, reflecting on the benefits and opportunities data literacy can offer to individuals and organisations in the not-for-profit and NGO sectors…(More)”.

A review of the evidence on developing and supporting policy and practice networks


Report by Ilona Haslewood: “In recent years, the Carnegie UK Trust has been involved in coordinating, supporting, and participating in a range of different kinds of networks. There are many reasons that people choose to develop networks as an approach to achieving a goal. We were interested in building our understanding of the evidence on the effectiveness of networks as a vehicle for policy and practice change.

In Autumn 2020, we began working with Ilona Haslewood to explore how to define a network, when it is appropriate to use this approach to achieve a particular goal, and what is the role of charitable foundations in supporting the development of networks. These questions, and more, are examined in A review of the evidence on developing and supporting policy and practice networks, which was written by Ilona Haslewood. This review of evidence forms part of a broader exploration of the role of networks, which includes a case study summary of A Better Way….(More)”

‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation


Max Fisher at the New York Times: “There’s a decent chance you’ve had at least one of these rumors, all false, relayed to you as fact recently: that President Biden plans to force Americans to eat less meat; that Virginia is eliminating advanced math in schools to advance racial equality; and that border officials are mass-purchasing copies of Vice President Kamala Harris’s book to hand out to refugee children.

All were amplified by partisan actors. But you’re just as likely, if not more so, to have heard it relayed from someone you know. And you may have noticed that these cycles of falsehood-fueled outrage keep recurring.

We are in an era of endemic misinformation — and outright disinformation. Plenty of bad actors are helping the trend along. But the real drivers, some experts believe, are social and psychological forces that make people prone to sharing and believing misinformation in the first place. And those forces are on the rise.

“Why are misperceptions about contentious issues in politics and science seemingly so persistent and difficult to correct?” Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth College political scientist, posed in a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It’s not for want of good information, which is ubiquitous. Exposure to good information does not reliably instill accurate beliefs anyway. Rather, Dr. Nyhan writes, a growing body of evidence suggests that the ultimate culprits are “cognitive and memory limitations, directional motivations to defend or support some group identity or existing belief, and messages from other people and political elites.”

Put more simply, people become more prone to misinformation when three things happen. First, and perhaps most important, is when conditions in society make people feel a greater need for what social scientists call ingrouping — a belief that their social identity is a source of strength and superiority, and that other groups can be blamed for their problems.

As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who put truth-seeking above all else, we are social animals wired for survival. In times of perceived conflict or social change, we seek security in groups. And that makes us eager to consume information, true or not, that lets us see the world as a conflict putting our righteous ingroup against a nefarious outgroup….(More)”.

Public participation in crisis policymaking. How 30,000 Dutch citizens advised their government on relaxing COVID-19 lockdown measures


Paper by Niek Mouter et al: “Following the outbreak of COVID-19, governments took unprecedented measures to curb the spread of the virus. Public participation in decisions regarding (the relaxation of) these measures has been notably absent, despite being recommended in the literature. Here, as one of the exceptions, we report the results of 30,000 citizens advising the government on eight different possibilities for relaxing lockdown measures in the Netherlands. By making use of the novel method Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE), participants were asked to recommend which out of the eight options they prefer to be relaxed. Participants received information regarding the societal impacts of each relaxation option, such as the impact of the option on the healthcare system.

The results of the PVE informed policymakers about people’s preferences regarding (the impacts of) the relaxation options. For instance, we established that participants assign an equal value to a reduction of 100 deaths among citizens younger than 70 years and a reduction of 168 deaths among citizens older than 70 years. We show how these preferences can be used to rank options in terms of desirability. Citizens advised to relax lockdown measures, but not to the point at which the healthcare system becomes heavily overloaded. We found wide support for prioritising the re-opening of contact professions. Conversely, participants disfavoured options to relax restrictions for specific groups of citizens as they found it important that decisions lead to “unity” and not to “division”. 80% of the participants state that PVE is a good method to let citizens participate in government decision-making on relaxing lockdown measures. Participants felt that they could express a nuanced opinion, communicate arguments, and appreciated the opportunity to evaluate relaxation options in comparison to each other while being informed about the consequences of each option. This increased their awareness of the dilemmas the government faces….(More)”.

Harnessing collective intelligence to find missing children


Cordis: “It is estimated that over 250 000 children go missing every year in the EU. Statistics on their recovery is scant, but based on data from the EU-wide 116 000 hotline, 14 % of runaways and 57 % of migrant minors reported missing in 2019 had not been found by the end of the year. The EU-supported ChildRescue project has developed a collective intelligence and stakeholder communication approach for missing children investigations. It consists of a collaborative platform and two mobile apps available for organisations, verified volunteers and the general public. “ChildRescue is being used by our piloting organisations and is already becoming instrumental in missing children investigations. The public response has exceeded our expectations, with over 22 000 app downloads,” says project coordinator Christos Ntanos from the Decision Support Systems Laboratory at the National Technical University of Athens. ChildRescue has also published a white paper on the need for a comprehensive legal framework on missing unaccompanied migrant minors in the EU….

To assist in missing children investigations, ChildRescue trained machine learning algorithms to find underlying patterns useful for investigations. As input, they used structured information about individual cases combined with open data from multiple sources, alongside data from similar past cases. The ChildRescue community mobile app issues real-time alerts near places of interest, such as where a child was last seen. Citizens can respond with information, including photos, exclusively accessible by the organisation involved in the case. The quality, relevance and credibility of this feedback are assessed by an algorithm. The organisation can then pass information to the police and engage its own volunteers. Team members can share real-time information through a dedicated private collaboration space….(More)”.

The Hidden History of Coined Words


Book by Ralph Keyes: “Successful word-coinages — those that stay in currency for a good long time — tend to conceal their beginnings. We take them at face value and rarely when and where they were first minted. Engaging, illuminating, and authoritative, Ralph Keyes’s The Hidden History of Coined Words explores the etymological underworld of terms and expressions and uncovers plenty of hidden gems.

He also finds some fascinating patterns, such as that successful neologisms are as likely to be created by chance as by design. A remarkable number of new words were coined whimsically, originally intended to troll or taunt. Knickers, for example, resulted from a hoax; big bang from an insult. Casual wisecracking produced software, crowdsource, and blog. More than a few resulted from happy accidents, such as typos, mistranslations, and mishearing (bigly and buttonhole), or from being taken entirely out of context (robotics). Neologizers (a Thomas Jefferson coinage) include not just scholars and writers but cartoonists, columnists, children’s book authors. Wimp originated with a book series, as did goop, and nerd from a book by Dr. Seuss. Coinages are often contested, controversy swirling around such terms as gonzo, mojo, and booty call. Keyes considers all contenders, while also leading us through the fray between new word partisans, and those who resist them strenuously. He concludes with advice about how to make your own successful coinage….(More)”.

Treading new ground in household sector innovation research: Scope, emergence, business implications, and diffusion


Paper by Jeroen P.J.de Jong et al: “Individual consumers in the household sector increasingly develop products, services and processes, in their discretionary time without payment. Household sector innovation is becoming a pervasive phenomenon, representing a significant share of the innovation activity in any economy. Such innovation emerges from personal needs or self-rewards, and is distinct from and complementary to producer innovations motivated by commercial gains. In this introductory paper to the special issue on household sector innovation, we take stock of emerging research on the topic. We categorize the research into four areas: scope, emergence, implications for business, and diffusion. We develop a conceptual basis for the phenomenon, introduce the articles in the special issue, and show how each article contributes new insights. We end by offering a research agenda for scholars interested in the salient phenomenon of household sector innovation….(More)”.

People Count: Contact-Tracing Apps and Public Health


Book by Susan Landau: “An introduction to the technology of contact tracing and its usefulness for public health, considering questions of efficacy, equity, and privacy.

How do you stop a pandemic before a vaccine arrives? Contact tracing is key, the first step in a process that has proven effective: trace, test, and isolate. Smartphones can collect some of the information required by contact tracers—not just where you’ve been but also who’s been near you. Can we repurpose the tracking technology that we carry with us—devices with GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and social media connectivity—to serve public health in a pandemic? In People Count, cybersecurity expert Susan Landau looks at some of the apps developed for contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic, finding that issues of effectiveness and equity intersect.

Landau explains the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of a range of technological interventions, including dongles in Singapore that collect proximity information; India’s biometric national identity system; Harvard University’s experiment, TraceFi; and China’s surveillance network. Other nations rejected China-style surveillance in favor of systems based on Bluetooth, GPS, and cell towers, but Landau explains the limitations of these technologies. She also reports that many current apps appear to be premised on a model of middle-class income and a job that can be done remotely. How can they be effective when low-income communities and front-line workers are the ones who are hit hardest by the virus? COVID-19 will not be our last pandemic; we need to get this essential method of infection control right….(More)”.

A growing problem of ‘deepfake geography’: How AI falsifies satellite images


Kim Eckart at UW News: “A fire in Central Park seems to appear as a smoke plume and a line of flames in a satellite image. Colorful lights on Diwali night in India, seen from space, seem to show widespread fireworks activity.

Both images exemplify what a new University of Washington-led study calls “location spoofing.” The photos — created by different people, for different purposes — are fake but look like genuine images of real places. And with the more sophisticated AI technologies available today, researchers warn that such “deepfake geography” could become a growing problem.

So, using satellite photos of three cities and drawing upon methods used to manipulate video and audio files, a team of researchers set out to identify new ways of detecting fake satellite photos, warn of the dangers of falsified geospatial data and call for a system of geographic fact-checking.

“This isn’t just Photoshopping things. It’s making data look uncannily realistic,” said Bo Zhao, assistant professor of geography at the UW and lead author of the study, which published April 21 in the journal Cartography and Geographic Information Science. “The techniques are already there. We’re just trying to expose the possibility of using the same techniques, and of the need to develop a coping strategy for it.”

As Zhao and his co-authors point out, fake locations and other inaccuracies have been part of mapmaking since ancient times. That’s due in part to the very nature of translating real-life locations to map form, as no map can capture a place exactly as it is. But some inaccuracies in maps are spoofs created by the mapmakers. The term “paper towns” describes discreetly placed fake cities, mountains, rivers or other features on a map to prevent copyright infringement. On the more lighthearted end of the spectrum, an official Michigan Department of Transportation highway map in the 1970s included the fictional cities of “Beatosu and “Goblu,” a play on “Beat OSU” and “Go Blue,” because the then-head of the department wanted to give a shoutout to his alma mater while protecting the copyright of the map….(More)”.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation: A Commentary/Update of Selected Articles


Open Access Book edited by C. Kuner, L.A. Bygrave and C. Docksey et al: ” provides an update for selected articles of the GDPR Commentary published in 2020 by Oxford University Press. It covers developments between the last date of coverage of the Commentary (1 August 2019) and 1 January 2021 (with a few exceptions when later developments are taken into account). Edited by Christopher Kuner, Lee A. Bygrave, Chris Docksey, Laura Drechsler, and Luca Tosoni, it covers 49 articles of the GDPR, and is being made freely accessible with the kind permission of Oxford University Press. It also includes two appendices that cover the same period as the rest of this update: the first deals with judgments of the European courts and some selected judgments of particular importance from national courts, and the second with EDPB papers…(More)”