Upshift: Turning Pressure into Performance and Crisis into Creativity

Book by Ben Ramalingam: “… distils this expertise into an insightful, powerful, and engaging book that will show you how to reframe your set responses to stress and pressure and instead use them to harness the potential they hold not just for improving your work, your relationships, and your mindset, but for transforming them.

Upshift takes readers on an epic journey from early humans’ survival of the Ice Age to present times in our inescapable, pernicious and ever-shifting digital landscape. You will hear remarkable stories from a vast range of upshifters—all of whom carved new routes around perceived barriers using their powers to upshift. Underlying stories of how city commuters navigate train cancellations to how astronauts deal with life-threatening incidents, is one key message: We all have the power to innovate, whether or not we identify ourselves as creative or extraordinary.

Maybe you’re the challenger, who thrives by constructively disrupting the status quo like Greta Thunberg. Or perhaps you find yourself constantly tweaking, prodding, breaking, rebuilding, and improving like crafters such as the team that revolutionized space travel called the NASA Pirates. Do you love introducing people whose combined efforts will lead to greater achievements? You might be a connector, like master networker Ariana Huffington.

In a runaway world that is an engine for perpetual crisis, Upshift is not only an essential toolkit for survival, it is a roadmap for positive, and potentially life-changing transformation and influence. You don’t have to shut down – you can upshift…(More)”

850 million people globally don’t have ID—why this matters and what we can do about it

Blog by Julia Clark, Anna Diofasi, and Claire Casher: “Having proof of legal identity or other officially recognized identification (ID) matters for equitable, sustainable development. It is a basic right and often provides the key to access services and opportunities, whether that is getting a job, opening a bank account, or receiving social assistance payments. The growth of digital services has further increased the need for secure and convenient ways to verify a person’s identity online and remotely.

Yet according to new estimates, some 850 million people globally do not have an official ID (let alone a digital one). 

The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative works to tackle the lack of access to identification challenge in multiple ways, starting with counting the uncounted. 

ID4D has produced estimates of global ID coverage since 2016 as part of its Global Dataset. Extensively updated in 2021-2022, the estimate now includes brand new data sources that paint the clearest picture yet of global ID ownership. 

ID4D partnered with the Global Findex survey to obtain representative survey data on adult ID ownership and usage. With this new individual-level data, as well as a significantly expanded set of administrative data provided by ID authorities, estimates released at the end of 2022 indicate that just under 850 million people around the world do not have an official ID (the full methodology is described in the ID4D Global Coverage Estimate report)…(More)”.

Use of Population-Level Administrative Data in Developmental Science

Paper by Barry J. Milne: “Population-level administrative data—data on individuals’ interactions with administrative systems (e.g., health, criminal justice, and education)—have substantially advanced our understanding of life-course development. In this review, we focus on five areas where research using these data has made significant contributions to developmental science: (a) understanding small or difficult-to-study populations, (b) evaluating intergenerational and family influences, (c) enabling estimation of causal effects through natural experiments and regional comparisons, (d) identifying individuals at risk for negative developmental outcomes, and (e) assessing neighborhood and environmental influences. Further advances will be made by linking prospective surveys to administrative data to expand the range of developmental questions that can be tested; supporting efforts to establish new linked administrative data resources, including in developing countries; and conducting cross-national comparisons to test findings’ generalizability. New administrative data initiatives should involve consultation with population subgroups including vulnerable groups, efforts to obtain social license, and strong ethical oversight and governance arrangements…(More)”.

Accelerate Aspirations: Moving Together to Achieve Systems Change

Report by “To solve our greatest global challenges, we need to accelerate how we use data for good. But to truly make data-driven tools that serve society, we must re-imagine data for social impact more broadly, more inclusively, and in a more interdisciplinary way. 

So, we face a choice. Business as usual can continue through funding and implementing under-resourced and siloed data projects that deliver incremental progress. Or we can think and act boldly to drive equitable and sustainable solutions. 

Accelerate Aspirations: Moving Together to Achieve Systems Change is a comprehensive report on the key trends and tensions in the emerging field of data for social impact…(More)”.

Addressing the Global Data Divide through Digital Trade Law

Paper by Binit Agrawal and Neha Mishra: “The global data divide has emerged as a major policy challenge threatening equitable development, poverty alleviation, and access to information. Further, it has polarised countries on either side of the data schism, who have often reacted by implementing conflicting and sub-optimal measures. This paper surveys such policy measures, the politics behind them, and the footprints they have left on the digital trade or electronic commerce rules contained in free trade agreements (FTAs). First, this paper details an understanding of what constitutes the global data divide, focusing on three components, namely access, regulation, and use. Second, the paper surveys electronic commerce or digital trade rules in FTAs to understand whether existing rules deal with the widening data divide in a comprehensive manner and, if so, how. Our primary argument is that the existing FTA disciplines are deficient in addressing the global data divide. Key problems include insufficient participation by developing countries in framing digital trade rules, non-recognition of the data divide affecting developing countries, and lack of robust and implementable mechanisms to bridge the data divide. Finally, we present a proposal to reform digital trade rules in line with best practices emerging in FTA practice and the main areas where gaps must be bridged. Our proposals include enhancing technical assistance and capacity-building support, developing a tailored special and differential treatment (SDT) mechanism, incentivising the removal of data-related barriers by designing appropriate bargains in negotiations, and boosting international regulatory cooperation through innovative and creative mechanisms….(More)”.

Responsible AI in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

Open Access Book edited by Damian Okaibedi Eke, Kutoma Wakunuma, and Simisola Akintoye: “In the last few years, a growing and thriving AI ecosystem has emerged in Africa. Within this ecosystem, there are local tech spaces as well as a number of internationally driven technology hubs and centres established by big tech companies such as Twitter, Google, Facebook, Alibaba Group, Huawei, Amazon and Microsoft have significantly increased the development and deployment of AI systems in Africa. While these tech spaces and hubs are focused on using AI to meet local challenges (e.g. poverty, illiteracy, famine, corruption, environmental disasters, terrorism and health crisis), the ethical, legal and socio-cultural implications of AI in Africa have largely been ignored. To ensure that Africans benefit from the attendant gains of AI, ethical, legal and socio-cultural impacts of AI need to be robustly considered and mitigated…(More)”.

Seemingly contrasting disciplines

Blog by Andreas Pawelke: “Development organizations increasingly embrace systems thinking (and portfolio approaches) in tackling complex challenges.

At the same time, there is a growing supply of (novel) data sources and analytical methods available to the development sector.

Little evidence exists, however, of these two seemingly contrasting disciplines to be combined by development practitioners for systems transformation with little progress made since 2019 when Thea Snow called for system thinkers and data scientists to work together.

This is not to say that system thinkers disregard data in their work. A range of data types is used, in particular the thick, rich, qualitative data from observations, deep listening and micro-narratives. And already back in 2013, MIT researchers organized an entire conference around big data and systems thinking.

When it comes to the use of non-traditional data in the work of system innovators in international development, however, there seems to be little in terms of examples and experiences.

Enhancing system innovation?

Is there a (bigger) role to play for non-traditional data in the systems work of development organizations?

Let’s start with definitions:

A system is an interconnected set of elements that form a unified whole or serve a function.

Systems thinking is about recognizing and taking into account the complexity of the world while trying to understand how the elements of a system are interconnected and how they influence each other.

System innovation emphasizes the act of changing (shifting) systems through innovations to a system (transformation), not within a system (improvement).

Non-traditional data refers to data that is digitally captured, mediated or observed. Such data is often (but not always) unstructured, big and used as proxies for purposes unrelated to its initial collection. We’re talking about the large quantities of digital data generated from our digital interactions and transactions but also (more or less) novel sources like satellites and drones that generate data that is readily available at large spatial and temporal scales.

There are at least three ways how non-traditional data could be used to enhance the practice of system innovation in the development sector:

  1. Observe: gain a better understanding of a system
  2. Shift: identify entry points of interventions and model potential outcomes
  3. Learn: measure and observe changes in a system over time..(More)”

A catalyst for community-wide action on sustainable development

Article by Communities around the world are increasingly recognizing that breaking down silos and leveraging shared resources and interdependencies across economic, social, and environmental issues can help accelerate progress on multiple issues simultaneously. As a framework for organizing local development priorities, the world’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) uniquely combine a need for broad technical expertise with an opportunity to synergize across domains—all while adhering to the principle of leaving no one behind. For local leaders attempting to tackle intersecting issues using the SDGs, one underpinning question is how to support new forms of collaboration to maximize impact and progress?

In early May, over 100 people across the East Central Florida (ECF) region in the U.S. participated in Partnership for the Goals: Creating a Resilient and Thriving Community,” a two-day multi-stakeholder convening spearheaded by a team of local leaders from the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative (ECFR2C), the Central Florida Foundation, the City of Orlando, Florida for Good, Orange County, and the University of Central Florida. The convening grew out of a multi-year resilience planning process that leveraged the SDGs as a framework for tackling local economic, social, and environmental priorities all at once.

To move from community-wide planning to community-wide action, the organizers experimented with a 17 Rooms process—a new approach to accelerating collaborative action for the SDGs pioneered by the Center for Sustainable Development at Brookings and The Rockefeller Foundation. We collaborated with the ECF local organizing team and, in the process, spotted a range of more broadly relevant insights that we describe here…(More)”.

Industry Data for Society Partnership

Press Release: “On Wednesday, a new Industry Data for Society Partnership (IDSP) was launched by GitHub, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), LinkedIn, Microsoft, Northumbrian Water Group, R2 Factory and UK Power Networks. The IDSP is a first-of-its-kind cross-industry partnership to help advance more open and accessible private-sector data for societal good. The founding members of the IDSP agree to provide greater access to their data, where appropriate, to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges in areas such as sustainability and inclusive economic growth.

In the past few years, open data has played a critical role in enabling faster research and collaboration across industries and with the public sector. As we saw during COVID-19, pandemic data that was made more open enabled researchers to make faster progress and gave citizens more information to inform their day-to-day activities. The IDSP’s goal is to continue this model into new areas and help address other complex societal challenges. The IDSP will serve as a forum for the participating companies to foster collaboration, as well as a resource for other entities working on related issues.

IDSP members commit to the following:

  • To open data or provide greater access to data, where appropriate, to help solve pressing societal problems in a usable, responsible and inclusive manner.
  • To share knowledge and information for the effective use of open data and data collaboration for social benefit.
  • To invest in skilling a broad class of professionals to use data effectively and responsibly for social impact.
  • To protect individuals’ privacy in all these activities.

The IDSP will also bring in other organizations with expertise in societal issues. At launch, The GovLab’s Data Program based at New York University and the Open Data Institute will both be partnership Affiliates to provide guidance and expertise for partnership endeavors…(More)”.

Operationalizing Digital Self Determination

Paper by Stefaan G. Verhulst: “We live in an era of datafication, one in which life is increasingly quantified and transformed into intelligence for private or public benefit. When used responsibly, this offers new opportunities for public good. However, three key forms of asymmetry currently limit this potential, especially for already vulnerable and marginalized groups: data asymmetries, information asymmetries, and agency asymmetries. These asymmetries limit human potential, both in a practical and psychological sense, leading to feelings of disempowerment and eroding public trust in technology. Existing methods to limit asymmetries (e.g., consent) as well as some alternatives under consideration (data ownership, collective ownership, personal information management systems) have limitations to adequately address the challenges at hand. A new principle and practice of digital self-determination (DSD) is therefore required.
DSD is based on existing concepts of self-determination, as articulated in sources as varied as Kantian philosophy and the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Updated for the digital age, DSD contains several key characteristics, including the fact that it has both an individual and collective dimension; is designed to especially benefit vulnerable and marginalized groups; and is context-specific (yet also enforceable). Operationalizing DSD in this (and other) contexts so as to maximize the potential of data while limiting its harms requires a number of steps. In particular, a responsible operationalization of DSD would consider four key prongs or categories of action: processes, people and organizations, policies, and products and technologies…(More)”.