Where Is Everyone? The Importance of Population Density Data


Data Artefact Study by Aditi Ramesh, Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew Young and Andrew Zahuranec: “In this paper, we explore new and traditional approaches to measuring population density, and ways in which density information has frequently been used by humanitarian, private-sector and government actors to advance a range of private and public goals. We explain how new innovations are leading to fresh ways of collecting data—and fresh forms of data—and how this may open up new avenues for using density information in a variety of contexts. Section III examines one particular example: Facebook’s High-Resolution Population Density Maps (also referred to as HRSL, or high resolution settlement layer). This recent initiative, created in collaboration with a number of external organizations, shows not only the potential of mapping innovations but also the potential benefits of inter-sectoral partnerships and sharing. We examine three particular use cases of HRSL, and we follow with an assessment and some lessons learned. These lessons are applicable to HRSL in particular, but also more broadly. We conclude with some thoughts on avenues for future research….(More)”.

Gathering Strength, Gathering Storms


The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) 2021 Study Panel Report: “In the five years since we released the first AI100 report, much has been written about the state of artificial intelligence and its influences on society. Nonetheless, AI100 remains unique in its combination of two key features. First, it is written by a Study Panel of core multi-disciplinary researchers in the field—experts who create artificial intelligence algorithms or study their influence on society as their main professional activity, and who have been doing so for many years. The authors are firmly rooted within the field of AI and provide an “insider’s” perspective. Second, it is a longitudinal study, with reports by such Study Panels planned once every five years, for at least one hundred years.

This report, the second in that planned series of studies, is being released five years after the first report.  Published on September 1, 2016, the first report was covered widely in the popular press and is known to have influenced discussions on governmental advisory boards and workshops in multiple countries. It has also been used in a variety of artificial intelligence curricula.   

In preparation for the second Study Panel, the Standing Committee commissioned two study-workshops held in 2019. These workshops were a response to feedback on the first AI100 report. Through them, the Standing Committee aimed to engage a broader, multidisciplinary community of scholars and stakeholders in its next study. The goal of the workshops was to draw on the expertise of computer scientists and engineers, scholars in the social sciences and humanities (including anthropologists, economists, historians, media scholars, philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists), law and public policy experts, and representatives from business management as well as the private and public sectors…(More)”.

Designing geospatial data portals


Guidance by The Geospatial Commission: “…for developers and designers to increase the discoverability and usefulness of geospatial data through user-focused data portals….Data portals differ by the data they provide and the audiences they serve. ‘Data portals’ described within this guidance are web-based interfaces designed to help users find and access datasets. Optimally, they should be built around metadata records which describe datasets, provide pointers to where they can be located and explain any restrictions or limitations in their use.

Although more and more geospatial data is being made available online, there are users who are confused about where to go, who to trust and which datasets are most relevant to answering their questions.

In 2018 user researchers and designers across the Geo6 came together to explore the needs and frustrations experienced by users of data portals containing geospatial data.

Throughout 2019 and 2020 the Geo6 have worked on solutions to address pain points identified by the user research conducted for the Data Discoverability project. This guidance provides high-level general recommendations, however, exact requirements for any given portal will vary depending on the needs of your target audience and according to the data volumes and subject matters covered. This resource is not a replacement for portal-specific user research and design work…(More)”.

The Global Drive to Control Big Tech


Report by the Freedom House: “In the high-stakes battle between states and technology companies, the rights of internet users have become the main casualties. A growing number of governments are asserting their authority over tech firms, often forcing the businesses to comply with online censorship and surveillance. These developments have contributed to an unprecedented assault on free expression online, causing global internet freedom to decline for an 11th consecutive year.

Global norms have shifted dramatically toward greater government intervention in the digital sphere. Of the 70 states covered by this report, a total of 48 pursued legal or administrative action against technology companies. While some moves reflected legitimate attempts to mitigate online harms, rein in misuse of data, or end manipulative market practices, many new laws imposed excessively broad censorship and data-collection requirements on the private sector. Users’ online activities are now more pervasively moderated and monitored by companies through processes that lack the safeguards featured in democratic governance, such as transparency, judicial oversight, and public accountability.

The drive toward national regulation has emerged partly due to a failure to address online harms through self-regulation. The United States played a leading role in shaping early internet norms around free speech and free markets, but its laissez-faire approach to the tech industry created opportunities for authoritarian manipulation, data exploitation, and widespread malfeasance. In the absence of a shared global vision for a free and open internet, governments are adopting their own approaches to policing the digital sphere. Policymakers in many countries have cited a vague need to retake control of the internet from foreign powers, multinational corporations, and in some cases, civil society.

This shift in power from companies to states has come amid a record-breaking crackdown on freedom of expression online. In 56 countries, officials arrested or convicted people for their online speech. Governments suspended internet access in at least 20 countries, and 21 states blocked access to social media platforms, most often during times of political turmoil such as protests and elections. As digital repression intensifies and expands to more countries, users understandably lack confidence that government initiatives to regulate the internet will lead to greater protection of their rights…(More)”.

EU Health data centre and a common data strategy for public health


Report by the European Parliament Think Tank: “Regarding health data, its availability and comparability, the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that the EU has no clear health data architecture. The lack of harmonisation in these practices and the absence of an EU-level centre for data analysis and use to support a better response to public health crises is the focus of this study. Through extensive desk review, interviews with key actors, and enquiry into experiences from outside the EU/EEA area, this study highlights that the EU must have the capacity to use data very effectively in order to make data-supported public health policy proposals and inform political decisions. The possible functions and characteristics of an EU health data centre are outlined. The centre can only fulfil its mandate if it has the power and competency to influence Member State public-health-relevant data ecosystems and institutionally link with their national level actors. The institutional structure, its possible activities and in particular its usage of advanced technologies such as AI are examined in detail….(More)”.

Government data management for the digital age


Essay by Axel Domeyer, Solveigh Hieronimus, Julia Klier, and Thomas Weber: “Digital society’s lifeblood is data—and governments have lots of data, representing a significant latent source of value for both the public and private sectors. If used effectively, and keeping in mind ever-increasing requirements with regard to data protection and data privacy, data can simplify delivery of public services, reduce fraud and human error, and catalyze massive operational efficiencies.

Despite these potential benefits, governments around the world remain largely unable to capture the opportunity. The key reason is that data are typically dispersed across a fragmented landscape of registers (datasets used by government entities for a specific purpose), which are often managed in organizational silos. Data are routinely stored in formats that are hard to process or in places where digital access is impossible. The consequence is that data are not available where needed, progress on digital government is inhibited, and citizens have little transparency on what data the government stores about them or how it is used.

Only a handful of countries have taken significant steps toward addressing these challenges. As other governments consider their options, the experiences of these countries may provide them with valuable guidance and also reveal five actions that can help governments unlock the value that is on their doorsteps.

As societies take steps to enhance data management, questions on topics such as data ownership, privacy concerns, and appropriate measures against security breaches will need to be answered by each government. The purpose of this article is to outline the positive benefits of modern data management and provide a perspective on how to get there…(More)”.

Old Cracks, New Tech


Paper for the Oxford Commission on AI & Good Governance: “Artificial intelligence (AI) systems are increasingly touted as solutions to many complex social and political issues around the world, particularly in developing countries like Kenya. Yet AI has also exacerbated cleavages and divisions in society, in part because those who build the technology often do not have a strong understanding of the politics of the societies in which the technology is deployed.

In her new report ‘Old Cracks, New Tech: Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, and Good Governance in Highly Fragmented and Socially Stratified Societies: The Case of Kenya’ writer and activist Nanjala Nyabola explores the Kenyan government’s policy on AI and blockchain technology and evaluates it’s success.Commissioned by the Oxford Commission for Good Governance (OxCAIGG), the report highlights lessons learnt from the Kenyan experience and sets out four key recommendations to help government officials and policy makers ensure good governance in AI in public and private contexts in Kenya.

The report recommends:

  • Conducting a deeper and more wide-ranging analysis of the political implications of existing and proposed applications of AI in Kenya, including comparisons with other countries where similar technology has been deployed.
  • Carrying out a comprehensive review of ongoing implementations of AI in both private and public contexts in Kenya in order to identify existing legal and policy gaps.
  • Conducting deeper legal research into developing meaningful legislation to govern the development and deployment of AI technology in Kenya. In particular, a framework for the implementation of the Data Protection Act (2019) vis-à-vis AI and blockchain technology is urgently required.
  • Arranging training for local political actors and researchers on the risks and opportunities for AI to empower them to independently evaluate proposed interventions with due attention to the local context…(More)”.

Urban Future with a Purpose


Deloitte Report: “The world is going through a transformative journey and so are cities. As centers of innovation and shared prosperity, cities are where the future happens first, hence envisioning the Future of Cities is anticipating the future of human living.

This report comprises 12 main trends that will affect our urban living in the upcoming future, its explanation, impact and key case studies where they are being implemented. Under this research project, Deloitte has listened to experts from all over the globe. These include Mayors of reference cities across the globe, international organizations leaders, urban policy institutions, as well as notorious urban planners, practitioners and researchers. Their views and insights offer further depth to our analysis.

Covering domains such as Mobility, Living & Health, Government & Education, Energy & Environment, Safety & Security and Economy, the purpose of our 360-degree comprehensive analysis is to create a constructive tool for everyone to use and practice what moves us day-by-day: foretell, design and build better cities….(More)”.

New York City to Require Food Delivery Services to Share Customer Data with Restaurants


Hunton Privacy Blog: “On August 29, 2021, a New York City Council bill amending the New York City Administrative Code to address customer data collected by food delivery services from online orders became law after the 30-day period for the mayor to sign or veto lapsed. Effective December 27, 2021, the law will permit restaurants to request customer data from third-party food delivery services and require delivery services to provide, on at least a monthly basis, such customer data until the restaurant “requests to no longer receive such customer data.” Customer data includes name, phone number, email address, delivery address and contents of the order.

Although customers are permitted to request that their customer data not be shared, the presumption under the law is that “customers have consented to the sharing of such customer data applicable to all online orders, unless the customer has made such a request in relation to a specific online order.” The food delivery services are required to provide on its website a way for customers to request that their data not be shared “in relation to such online order.” To “assist its customers with deciding whether their data should be shared,” delivery services must disclose to the customer (1) the data that may be shared with the restaurant and (2) the restaurant fulfilling the order as the recipient of the data.

The law will permit restaurants to use the customer data for marketing and other purposes, and prohibit delivery apps from restricting such activities by restaurants. Restaurants that receive the customer data, however, must allow customers to request and delete their customer data. In addition, restaurants are not permitted to sell, rent or disclose customer data to any other party in exchange for financial benefit, except with the express consent of the customer….(More)”.

Exploring a new governance agenda: What are the questions that matter?


Article by Nicola Nixon, Stefaan Verhulst, Imran Matin & Philips J. Vermonte: “…Late last year, we – the Governance Lab at NYUthe CSIS Indonesiathe BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, Bangladesh and The Asia Foundation – joined forces across New York, Jakarta, Dhaka, Hanoi, and San Francisco to launch the 100 Governance Questions Initiative. This is the latest iteration of the GovLab’s broader initiative to map questions across several domains.

We live in an era marked by an unprecedented amount of data. Anyone who uses a mobile phone or accesses the internet is generating vast streams of information. Covid-19 has only intensified this phenomenon. 

Although this data contains tremendous potential for positive social transformation, much of that potential goes unfulfilled. In the development context, one chief problem is that data initiatives are often driven by supply (i.e., what data or data solutions are available?) rather than demand (what problems actually need solutions?). Too many projects begin with the database, the app, the dashboard–beholden to the seduction of technology– and now, many parts of the developing world are graveyards of tech pilots. As is well established in development theory but not yet fully in practice, solution-driven governance interventions are destined to fail.

The 100 Questions Initiative, pioneered by the GovLab, seeks to overcome the chasm between supply and demand. It begins not by searching for what data is available, but by asking important questions about the biggest challenges societies and countries face, and then seeking more targeted and relevant data solutions. In doing this, it narrows the gap between policy makers and constituents, providing opportunities for improved evidence-based policy and community engagement in developing countries. As part of this initiative, we seek to define the ten most important questions across several domains, including Migration, Gender, Employment, the Future of Work, and—now–Governance.

On this occasion, we invited over 100 experts and practitioners in governance and data science –whom we call “bilinguals”– from various organizations, companies, and government agencies to identify what they see as the most pressing governance questions in their respective domains. Over 100 bilinguals were encouraged to prioritize potential impact, novelty, and feasibility in their questioning — moving toward a roadmap for data-driven action and collaboration that is both actionable and ambitious.   

By June, the bilinguals had articulated 170 governance-related questions. Over the next couple of months, these were sorted, discussed and refined during two rounds of collaboration with the bilinguals; first to narrow down to the top 40 and then to the top 10. Bilinguals were asked what, to them, are the most significant governance questions we must answer with data today? The result is the following 10 questions:…(More)” ( Public Voting Platform)”.