Enabling Trusted Data Collaboration in Society


Launch of Public Beta of the Data Responsibility Journey Mapping Tool: “Data Collaboratives, the purpose-driven reuse of data in the public interest, have demonstrated their ability to unlock the societal value of siloed data and create real-world impacts. Data collaboration has been key in generating new insights and action in areas like public healtheducationcrisis response, and economic development, to name a few. Designing and deploying a data collaborative, however, is a complex undertaking, subject to risks of misuse of data as well as missed use of data that could have provided public value if used effectively and responsibly.

Today, The GovLab is launching the public beta of a new tool intended to help Data Stewards — responsible data leaders across sectors — and other decision-makers assess and mitigate risks across the life cycle of a data collaborative. The Data Responsibility Journey is an assessment tool for Data Stewards to identify and mitigate risks, establish trust, and maximize the value of their work. Informed by The GovLab’s long standing research and practice in the field, and myriad consultations with data responsibility experts across regions and contexts, the tool aims to support decision-making in public agencies, civil society organizations, large businesses, small businesses, and humanitarian and development organizations, in particular.

The Data Responsibility Journey guides users through important questions and considerations across the lifecycle of data stewardship and collaboration: Planning, Collecting, Processing, Sharing, Analyzing, and Using. For each stage, users are asked to consider whether important data responsibility issues have been taken into account as part of their implementation strategy. When users flag an issue as in need of more attention, it is automatically added to a customized data responsibility strategy report providing actionable recommendations, relevant tools and resources, and key internal and external stakeholders that could be engaged to help operationalize these data responsibility actions…(More)”.

Theories of Change


Book by Karen Wendt: “Today, it has become strikingly obvious that companies no longer operate in an environment where only risk return and volatility describe the business environment. The business has to deal with volatility plus uncertainty, plus complexity and ambiguity (VUCA): that requires new qualities, competencies, frameworks; and it demands a new mind set to deal with the VUCA environment in investment, funding and financing. This book builds on a new megatrend beyond resilience, called anti-fragility. We have had the black swan  (financial crisis) and the red swan (COVID) – the Bank for International Settlement is preparing for regenerative capitalism, block chain based analysis of financial streams and is aiming to prevent the “Green Swan” – the climate crisis to lead to the next lockdown. In the light of the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, what is required, is Theories of Change.

Written by experts working in the fields of sustainable finance, impact investing, development finance, carbon divesting, innovation, scaling finance, impact entrepreneurship, social stock exchanges, alternative currencies, Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), ledger technologies, civil action, co-creation, impact management, deep learning and transformation leadership, the book begins by analysing existing Theories of Change frameworks from various disciplines and creating a new integrated model – the meta-framework. In turn, it presents insights on creating and using Theories of Change to redirect investment capital to sustainable companies while implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. Further, it discusses the perspective of planetary boundaries as defined by the Stockholm Resilience Institute, and investigates various aspects of systems, organizations, entrepreneurship, investment and finance that are closely tied to the mission ingrained in the Theory of Change. As it demonstrates, solutions that ensure the parity of profit, people and planet through dynamic change can effectively address the needs of entrepreneurs and business. By exploring these concepts and their application, the book helps create and shape new markets and opportunities….(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)”.

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)”.

Digital Technologies, Innovation, and Skills: Emerging Trajectories and Challenges


Paper by Tommaso Ciarli et al: “In order to better understand the complex and dialectical relationships between digital technologies, innovation, and skills, it is necessary to improve our understanding of the coevolution between the trajectories of connected digital technologies, firm innovation routines, and skills formation. This is critical as organizations recombine and adapt digital technologies; they require new skills to innovate, learn, and adapt to evolving digital technologies, while digital technologies change the codification of knowledge for productive and innovative activities. The coevolution between digital technologies, innovation, and skills also requires, and is driven by, a reorganization of productive and innovation processes, both within and between firms. We observe this in all economic sectors, from agriculture to services. Based on evidence on past technologies in the innovation literature, we suggest that we might require a new set of stylized facts to better map the main future trajectories of digital technologies, their adoption, use, and recombination in organizations, to improve our understanding of their impact on productivity, employment and inequality. The papers in this special issue contribute to a better understanding of the interdependence between digital technologies, innovation, and skills….(More)”.

How to make good group decisions


Report by Nesta: “The report has five sections that cover different dimensions of group decisions: group composition, group dynamics, the decision making process, the decision rule and uncertainty….Key takeaways:

  1. Diversity is the most important factor for a group’s collective intelligence. Both identity and functional (e.g. different skills and experience levels) diversity are necessary for better problem solving and decision making.
  2. Increasing the size of the decision making group can help to increase diversity, skills and creativity. Organisations could be much better at leveraging the wisdom of the crowd for certain tasks such as idea generation, prioritisation of options (especially eliminating bad options), and accurate forecasts.
  3. A quick win for decision makers is to focus on developing cross-cutting skills within teams. Important skills to train in your teams include probabilistic reasoning to improve risk analysis, cognitive flexibility to make full use of available information and perspective taking to correct for assumptions..
  4. It’s not always efficient for groups to push themselves to find the optimal solution or group consensus, and in many cases they don’t need to. ‘Satisficing’ helps to maintain quality under pressure by agreeing in advance what is ‘good enough’.
  5. Introducing intermittent breaks where group members work independently is known to improve problem solving for complex tasks. The best performing teams tend to have periods of intense communication with little or no interaction in between.
  6. When the external world is unstable, like during a financial crisis or political elections, traditional sources of expertise often fail due to overconfidence. This is when novel data and insights gathered through crowdsourcing or collective intelligence methods that capture frontline experience are most important….(More)”.

Developing a Data Reuse Strategy for Solving Public Problems


The Data Stewards Academy…A self-directed learning program from the Open Data Policy Lab (The GovLab): “Communities across the world face unprecedented challenges. Strained by climate change, crumbling infrastructure, growing economic inequality, and the continued costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions need new ways of solving public problems and improving how they operate.

In recent years, data has been increasingly used to inform policies and interventions targeted at these issues. Yet, many of these data projects, data collaboratives, and open data initiatives remain scattered. As we enter into a new age of data use and re-use, a third wave of open data, it is more important than ever to be strategic and purposeful, to find new ways to connect the demand for data with its supply to meet institutional objectives in a socially responsible way.

This self-directed learning program, adapted from a selective executive education course, will help data stewards (and aspiring data stewards) develop a data re-use strategy to solve public problems. Noting the ways data resources can inform their day-to-day and strategic decision-making, the course provides learners with ways they can use data to improve how they operate and pursue goals in the public’s interests. By working differently—using agile methods and data analytics—public, private, and civil sector leaders can promote data re-use and reduce data access inequities in ways that advance their institution’s goals.

In this self-directed learning program, we will teach participants how to develop a 21st century data strategy. Participants will learn:

  1. Why It Matters: A discussion of the three waves of open data and how data re-use has proven to be transformative;
  2. The Current State of Play: Current practice around data re-use, including deficits of current approaches and the need to shift from ad hoc engagements to more systematic, sustainable, and responsible models;
  3. Defining Demand: Methodologies for how organizations can formulate questions that data can answer; and make data collaboratives more purposeful;
  4. Mapping Supply: Methods for organizations to discover and assess the open and private data needed to answer the questions at hand that potentially may be available to them;
  5. Matching Supply with Demand: Operational models for connecting and meeting the needs of supply- and demand-side actors in a sustainable way;
  6. Identifying Risks: Overview of the risks that can emerge in the course of data re-use;
  7. Mitigating Risks and Other Considerations: Technical, legal and contractual issues that can be leveraged or may arise in the course of data collaboration and other data work; and
  8. Institutionalizing Data Re-use: Suggestions for how organizations can incorporate data re-use into their organizational structure and foster future collaboration and data stewardship.

The Data Stewardship Executive Education Course was designed and implemented by program leads Stefaan Verhulst, co-founder and chief research development officer at the GovLab, and Andrew Young, The GovLab’s knowledge director, in close collaboration with a global network of expert faculty and advisors. It aims to….(More)”.

Data Stewards Academy Canvas

Citizen Science Is Helping Tackle Stinky Cities


Article by Lucrezia Lozza: “Marta has lived with a bad smell lingering in her hometown in central Spain, Villanueva del Pardillo, for a long time. Fed up, in 2017 she and her neighbors decided to pursue the issue. “The smell is disgusting,” Marta says, pointing a finger at a local yeast factory.

Originally, she thought of recording the “bad smell days” on a spreadsheet. When this didn’t work out, after some research she found Odour Collect, a crowdsourced map that allows users to enter a geolocalized timestamp of bad smells in their neighborhood.

After noise, odor nuisances are the second cause of environmental complaints. Odor regulations vary among countries and there’s little legislation about how to manage smells. For instance, in Spain some municipalities regulate odors, but others do not. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate odor as a pollutant, so states and local jurisdictions are in charge of the issue.

Only after Marta started using Odour Collect to record the unpleasant smells in her town did she discover that the map was part of ‘D-NOSES’, a European project aimed at bringing citizens, industries and local authorities together to monitor and minimize odor nuisances. D-NOSES relies heavily on citizen science: Affected communities gather odor observations through two maps — Odour Collect and Community Maps — with the goal of implementing new policies in their area. D-NOSES launched several pilots in Europe — in Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, and Portugal — and two outside the continent in Uganda and in Chile.

“Citizen science promotes transparency between all the actors,” said Nora Salas Seoane, Social Sciences Researcher at Fundación Ibercivis, one of the partners of D-NOSES…(More)”.

Cultures of Transparency: Between Promise and Peril


Book edited by Stefan Berger, Susanne Fengler, Dimitrij Owetschkin, and Julia Sittmann: “This volume addresses the major questions surrounding a concept that has become ubiquitous in the media and in civil society as well as in political and economic discourses in recent years, and which is demanded with increasing frequency: transparency.

How can society deal with increasing and often diverging demands and expectations of transparency? What role can different political and civil society actors play in processes of producing, or preventing, transparency? Where are the limits of transparency and how are these boundaries negotiated? What is the relationship of transparency to processes of social change, as well as systems of social surveillance and control? Engaging with transparency as an interrelated product of law, politics, economics and culture, this interdisciplinary volume explores the ambiguities and contradictions, as well as the social and political dilemmas, that the age of transparency has unleashed….(More)”.