The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has published a new report on Using mobile big data for development.
Too often basic information on the poor – who is poor, where do they live and move, how do they manage their social and financial lives? – is scarce, while the costs associated with being underknown are significant. Without formal financial histories, creditworthy individuals cannot access loans when needed most, vaccine workers cannot determine what percent of a region they have immunized from a disease, and relief organizations cannot anticipate where people move when catastrophic events occur. Overall, the quality and efficiency of providing services to the poor suffers.
But the developing world mobile explosion can change this.
It pulls together stories of work that has been done worldwide, including by our colleague Josh Blumenstock. Our results came too late for inclusion, but we are happy we have company in our belief in the potential of mobile big for development.