Data philanthropy was what UN Global Pulse came up with as a foundation for private entities donating data for public services. But now Uber has come up with another story. The site, which Uber will invite planning agencies and researchers to visit in the coming weeks, will allow outsiders to study traffic patterns and speeds across cities using data collected by tens of thousands of Uber vehicles. Users can use Movement to compare average trip times across certain points in cities and see what effect something like a baseball game might have on traffic patterns. Eventually, the company plans to make Movement available to the general public.
In a short piece reassessing the Sri Lanka government’s economic strategies centered on hubs, this is what I had to say on progress toward a knowledge hub. The controversial stuff on electricity, ports and aviation. Most progress has been achieved on this thrust, measured by the export revenues and numbers of jobs created by the IT and BPM [Business Process Management] sectors. But progress is needed on the foundational resource: a knowledgeable work force. Significant improvements have been achieved in tertiary and higher education.
Every time I hear people agonizing over the possible ill effects of big data, I think of Dhaka, a city that is being choked by traffic. We all know that the solutions to transport management are among the most difficult to implement. We know that, in fact, there are no perfect solutions. Public transport is part of the answer but not all of it. Congestion pricing, by itself, cannot solve problems.
We immersed ourselves in agriculture for 3-4 hours yesterday in conversation with visiting colleagues from the University of Alberta, working up a proposal on food security. When asked for a definition of food security, they responded in terms of shorter distances food was transported. I was reminded of the archetypal “bad” food value chain that got much play when there was fire in one of the Swiss road tunnels: potatoes grown in Poland, transported by truck (despite Europe’s vaunted and subsidized railways) to Italy for processing, and then hauled back as French Fries across those same tunnels back to Germany and Poland. It seems common sensical that food that puts on less miles would be better. So what are such value chains in Sri Lanka?
Rohan Samarajiva made a presentation entitled, “Improving transport and transportation policy: lessons from telecom” at the recently concluded Seminar on the Draft National Transport Policy of the Ministry of Transport. Held on 23rd of July, the seminar was organized by the Pathfinder Foundation in collaboration with The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Drawing on the similarities between the telecom and transport sector, including opportunities for private sector participation and availability of new technologies for market structure transformation in both sectors, he stated that while telecom sector has flourished under market reforms, the transport sector may, in fact, have worsened. As cited in The Island and Lanka Business Online, Rohan argued that “the draft policy appeared to perpetuate existing inefficiencies, poor service and waste of public funds”, as well as that “the national transport policy does not allow for adequate private participation, and where there was, such as in bus services, regulation was lacking”. Click here to download slides.