Leveraging Telecom Data to Aid Humanitarian Efforts


Data Collaborative Case Study by Michelle Winowatan, Andrew J. Zahuranec, Andrew Young, and Stefaan Verhulst: “Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Flowminder, a data analytics nonprofit, and NCell, a mobile operator in Nepal, formed a data collaborative. Using call detail records (CDR, a type of mobile operator data) provided by NCell, Flowminder estimated the number of people displaced by the earthquake and their location. The result of the analysis was provided to various humanitarian agencies responding to the crisis in Nepal to make humanitarian aid delivery more efficient and targeted.

Data Collaboratives Model: Based on our typology of data collaborative practice areas, the initiative follows the trusted intermediary model of data collaboration, specifically a third-party analytics approach. Third-party analytics projects involve trusted intermediaries — such as Flowminder — who access private-sector data, conduct targeted analysis, and share insights with public or civil sector partners without sharing the underlying data. This approach enables public interest uses of private-sector data while retaining strict access control. It brings outside data expertise that would likely not be available otherwise using direct bilateral collaboration between data holders and users….(More)”.

Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China’s Countryside


Book by By Xiaowei R. Wang: “In Blockchain Chicken Farm, the technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social entanglements of technology in rural China. Their discoveries force them to challenge the standard idea that rural culture and people are backward, conservative, and intolerant. Instead, they find that rural China has not only adapted to rapid globalization but has actually innovated the technology we all use today. From pork farmers using AI to produce the perfect pig, to disruptive luxury counterfeits and the political intersections of e-commerce villages, Wang unravels the ties between globalization, technology, agriculture, and commerce in unprecedented fashion. Accompanied by humorous “Sinofuturist” recipes that frame meals as they transform under new technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitized rural world.

FSG Originals × Logic dissects the way technology functions in everyday lives. The titans of Silicon Valley, for all their utopian imaginings, never really had our best interests at heart: recent threats to democracy, truth, privacy, and safety, as a result of tech’s reckless pursuit of progress, have shown as much. We present an alternate story, one that delights in capturing technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and gloom. Our collaboration features four brief but provocative forays into the tech industry’s many worlds, and aspires to incite fresh conversations about technology focused on nuanced and accessible explorations of the emerging tools that reorganize and redefine life today….(More)”.

The Potential of Open Digital Ecosystems


About: “Omidyar Network India (ONI), in partnership with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), has undertaken a study to reimagine digital platforms for the public good, with the aim build a shared narrative around digital platforms and develop a holistic roadmap to foster their systematic adoption.

This study has especially benefited from collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India. It builds on the thinking presented in the public consultation whitepaper on ‘Strategy for National Open Digital Ecosystems (NODEs)’ published by MeitY in February 2020, to which ONI and BCG have contributed.

This website outlines the key findings of the study and introduces a new paradigm, i.e. ODEs, which recognizes the importance of a strong governance framework as well as the community of stakeholders that make them effective….(More)”.

TraceTogether


Case Notes by Mitchell B. Weiss and Sarah Mehta: “By April 7, 2020, over 1.4 million people worldwide had contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Governments raced to curb the spread of COVID-19 by scaling up testing, quarantining those infected, and tracing their possible contacts. It had taken Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and Ministry of Health (MOH) all of eight weeks to develop the world’s first nationwide deployment of a Bluetooth-based contact tracing system, TraceTogether, and deploy it in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. From late January to mid-March 2020, GovTech’s Jason Bay and his team raced to create a technology that would supplement the work of Singapore’s human contact tracers. Days after its launch, Singapore’s foreign minister announced plans to open source the technology. Now, in early April, TraceTogether was a beta for the world. Whether the system would really help in Singapore, and whether other countries should adopt it was still a wide-open question….(More)”.

Policies and Strategies to Promote Grassroots Innovation Workbook


UN-ESCAP: “Grassroots innovation is a modality of inclusive innovation that enables extremely affordable, niche-adapted solutions to local problems, often unaided by public sector or outsiders.

In a context of rising income disparity among the have and have-nots, every effort should be made to convert the ideas and innovations of knowledge-rich but economically poor individuals and communities into viable means of raising income, addressing social needs, and conserving the environment. While grassroots innovation are typically bottom-up initiatives, public policies can also support the emergence, recognition and diffusion of grassroots innovations. The journey of developing a grassroots idea or invention into a viable product or service for commercial or social diffusion requires support from many actors at different stages and levels.

The Honey Bee Network has been leading the grassroots innovation movement in India. In the past three decades, it has strengthened the inclusive innovation ecosystem of the country and has become a global benchmark of frugal, friendly and flexible solutions for men and women farmers, pastoral and artisan households, mechanics, forest dwellers, fishermen etc. This workbook draws on the experience of the Honey Bee Network and discusses experiences, issues and strategies that could also be relevant for other countries….(More)”.

Monitoring Corruption: Can Top-down Monitoring Crowd-Out Grassroots Participation?


Paper by Robert M Gonzalez, Matthew Harvey and Foteini Tzachrista: “Empirical evidence on the effectiveness of grassroots monitoring is mixed. This paper proposes a previously unexplored mechanism that may explain this result. We argue that the presence of credible and effective top-down monitoring alternatives can undermine citizen participation in grassroots monitoring efforts. Building on Olken’s (2009) road-building field experiment in Indonesia; we find a large and robust effect of the participation interventions on missing expenditures in villages without an audit in place. However, this effect vanishes as soon as an audit is simultaneously implemented in the village. We find evidence of crowding-out effects: in government audit villages, individuals are less likely to attend, talk, and actively participate in accountability meetings. They are also significantly less likely to voice general problems, corruption-related problems, and to take serious actions to address these problems. Despite policies promoting joint implementation of top-down and bottom-up interventions, this paper shows that top-down monitoring can undermine rather than complement grassroots efforts….(More)”.

The detection and location estimation of disasters using Twitter and the identification of Non-Governmental Organisations using crowdsourcing


Paper by Christopher Loynes, Jamal Ouenniche & Johannes De Smedt: “This paper provides the humanitarian community with an automated tool that can detect a disaster using tweets posted on Twitter, alongside a portal to identify local and regional Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that are best-positioned to provide support to people adversely affected by a disaster. The proposed disaster detection tool uses a linear Support Vector Classifier (SVC) to detect man-made and natural disasters, and a density-based spatial clustering of applications with noise (DBSCAN) algorithm to accurately estimate a disaster’s geographic location. This paper provides two original contributions. The first is combining the automated disaster detection tool with the prototype portal for NGO identification. This unique combination could help reduce the time taken to raise awareness of the disaster detected, improve the coordination of aid, increase the amount of aid delivered as a percentage of initial donations and improve aid effectiveness. The second contribution is a general framework that categorises the different approaches that can be adopted for disaster detection. Furthermore, this paper uses responses obtained from an on-the-ground survey with NGOs in the disaster-hit region of Uttar Pradesh, India, to provide actionable insights into how the portal can be developed further…(More)”.

The AI Powered State: What can we learn from China’s approach to public sector innovation?


Essay collection edited by Nesta: “China is striding ahead of the rest of the world in terms of its investment in artificial intelligence (AI), rate of experimentation and adoption, and breadth of applications. In 2017, China announced its aim of becoming the world leader in AI technology by 2030. AI innovation is now a key national priority, with central and local government spending on AI estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars.

While Europe and the US are also following AI strategies designed to transform the public sector, there has been surprisingly little analysis of what practical lessons can be learnt from China’s use of AI in public services. Given China’s rapid progress in this area, it is important for the rest of the world to pay attention to developments in China if it wants to keep pace.

This essay collection finds that examining China’s experience of public sector innovation offers valuable insights for policymakers. Not everything is applicable to a western context – there are social, political and ethical concerns that arise from China’s use of new technologies in public services and governance – but there is still much that can be learned from its experience while also acknowledging what should be criticized and avoided….(More)”.

Capturing Citizens’ Information Needs through Analysis of Public Library Circulation Data


Paper by Tomoya Igarashi, Masanori Koizumi and Michael Widdersheim: “The Japanese government has initiated lifelong learning policies to promote lifelong learning to a super-aging society. It is said that lifelong learning contributes to a richer and more fulfilling life. It is within this context that public libraries have been identified as ideal facilities for promoting lifelong learning. To support lifelong learning successfully, libraries must accurately grasp citizens’ needs, all while working within limited budgets. To understand citizens’ learning needs, this study uses public library circulation data. This study is significant because such data use is often unavailable in Japan. This data was used to clarify citizens’ learning interests. Circulation data was compared from two libraries in Japan: Koto District Library in Tokyo and Tahara City Library in Aichi Prefecture. The data was used to identify general learning needs while also accounting for regional differences. The methodology and results of this research are significant for the development of lifelong learning policy and programming….(More)”.

How to Make the Perfect Citizen? Lessons from China’s Model of Social Credit System


Paper by Liav Orgad and Wessel Reijers: “The COVID19 crisis has triggered a new wave of digitalization of the lives of citizens. To counter the devastating effects of the virus, states and corporations are experimenting with systems that trace citizens as an integral part of public life. In China, a comprehensive sociotechnical system of citizenship governance has already in force with the implementation of the Social Credit System—a technology-driven project that aims to assess, evaluate, and steer the behavior of Chinese citizens.

After presenting social credit systems in China’s public and private sectors (Part I), the article provides normative standards to distinguish the Chinese system from comparable Western systems (Part II). It then shows the manner in which civic virtue is instrumentalized in China, both in content (“what” it is) and in form (“how” to cultivate it) (Part III), and claims that social credit systems represent a new form of citizenship governance, “cybernetic citizenship,” which implements different conceptions of state power, civic virtue, and human rights (Part V). On the whole, the article demonstrates how the Chinese Social Credit System redefines the institution of citizenship and warns against similar patterns that are mushrooming in the West.

The article makes three contributions: empirically, it presents China’s Social Credit Systems and reveals their data sources, criteria used, rating methods, and attached sanctions and rewards. Comparatively, it shows that, paradoxically, China’s Social Credit System is not fundamentally different than credit systems in Western societies, yet indicates four points of divergence: scope, authority, regulation, and regime. Normatively, it claims that China’s Social Credit System creates a form of cybernetic citizenship governance, which redefines the essence of citizenship….(More)”