Spatial Big Data, Participation, Empowerment and Agency

What does ‘development’ mean to data scientists, and how does that determine what data science can achieve within the field of international development? This essential question has been raised, in relation to certain D4D (Data for Development) projects, by some experts who further state:

Data science conducted with the aim of informing development policy must, by definition, involve an understanding of the policy area in question, and importantly the analysis must be combined with understanding of the local context. Without these characteristics, research only informs the field of data science rather than development policy.

(Taylor & Schroeder, 2015, pp. 508 & 514)

‘Data science must involve an understanding of the policy area and the local context’. Here is an interesting statement to begin with. So, let’s start with a video from the Geospatial Revolution Project.

Continue reading Spatial Big Data, Participation, Empowerment and Agency

Information Ethics and Whistleblowing

Photo credit: Getty Images

Whistleblowers are individuals or a group of people who bring to public knowledge any information or activity that is regarded as illegal or unethical. These activities could be in several forms such as breaching company policies, corruption or threat to national security. Whistleblowing has much to do with a person’s ethics, and as a result, numerous debates arise as to whether it is allowable or not. Those in support of it maintain that it aims at protecting the public from government misconduct. Those in the opposite camp, however, argue that it breaches confidentiality (Brown et al., 2014).

Continue reading Information Ethics and Whistleblowing

Social Media and Big Data from a Public Sphere Perspective

Jürgen Habermas. Photograph: Martin Gerten/EPA/Corbis

The combination of big data and social media, may both empower development in many ways as well as harm human rights and privacy. Nevertheless, those two diametrically opposed practices will be further analyzed in following posts. In this post, it is briefly discussed how both those perspectives fit into the theory of the Public Sphere.

According to the classic theory of public sphere introduced in 1962 by the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas (1989), public sphere is the discursive space that floats between the private sphere and public authority. Living in the age of internet, many theorists offered diverse perspectives on how the Internet may include public spheres or how it can constitute a public sphere on its own (Dahlgren, 2005; Bohman, 2004). Indeed, it is a huge advantage what modern communication channels offer to us.

Continue reading Social Media and Big Data from a Public Sphere Perspective

mHealth in Ethiopia: Challenges and Opportunities

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to address inequalities with an objective of “reaching the unreachable”. As mobile technology becomes more affordable, more powerful, and more accessible in low-income regions, it presents even more opportunity for governments to achieve these goals, even more so in public health.

Continue reading mHealth in Ethiopia: Challenges and Opportunities

Spatial Big Data, Crisis Response and International Development Policy

“Social media, data and development”… It didn’t take me long to choose a focus within that theme: spatial data and mapping will be my common thread in the next few weeks.

Gathering geographical data about a crisis area is considered a traditional data-gathering target (Read et al., 2016, p. 6). According to some experts, the most mentioned application of ‘big data’ in developing countries is the possibility of mapping problems, for instance tracking and modelling the spread of diseases, through novel ways (Hay et al., 2013 cited in Spratt & Baker, 2015, p. 14).

Before going any further, let’s start with a video from the Geospatial Revolution Project.

Continue reading Spatial Big Data, Crisis Response and International Development Policy