Big data for development discussed at ITU Telecom World

Posted on December 3, 2014  /  0 Comments

Following the plenary in 2013 at which Viktor Mayer-Schonberger introduced big data to ITU Telecom World attendees, there will be a panel discussion at the 2014 edition in Doha, Qatar. What is novel is that we will have three presentations by those who have actually got their hands dirty with big data, including Linus Bengtsson on Flowminder who will talk about their most recent work in helping track Ebola in West Africa, and our own Sriganesh Lokanathan and Joshua Blumenstock.

Big Data for Development
Tuesday, December 09, 2014, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM, Meeting Room 104

Companies are increasingly relying on business analytics to extract value from the large volumes of computer-readable and analyzable (or “datafied”) data in their possession. For example, telecom operators are using these techniques to identify customers likely to exit so as to manage churn. Big data for development (BD4D) seeks to apply these techniques to big data held by both government and private entities to answer development-related questions. Given low levels of “datafication” of transactions and records in developing countries, analysis of credit-card use or even social-media use is unlikely to yield coverage approaching n=all as in developed countries. Mobile transaction-generated data (including Call Detail Records or CDRs) are an exception. Because they can yield information on movement of people, they have great potential to inform urban and transportation planning and to improve government-service delivery, possibly replacing conventional surveys. Much value can be extracted from pseudonymized historical data, which have minimal privacy implications. Other insights are being extracted. For example, analysis of reload behaviour can identify areas of high economic activity and also indicate slowdowns or upticks in the overall economy. The session will discuss ongoing research and identify remaining challenges.

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