Big Data 4 Development

The extant public discourse on leveraging big data for public purposes is characterized by a competition of imaginations, between hype and pessimism. The term “big data” itself has unfortunately become a Rorschach blot, upon which different people impose their own meanings. LIRNEasia role is to participate in this global dialogue with experiential evidence. We conduct our own big data analyses and engage deeply with policy makers, as well as the private sector who currently possess the majority (if not the only source) of big data of relevance for developmental policy. The current goals of this research practice are:

  • Analyze and produce insights from Big Data and in particular Mobile Network Big Data (MNBD) for informing policy across various domains (urban & transportation planning, DRR, economic and social policy, health, etc.)
  • Study the socio-economic implications of big data (particularly in relation to marginalization, privacy, and competition)
  • Deeply engage with policy makers and the symbolic environment of policy domains to facilitate the uptake of insights from big data for developmental policy and be intelligent and informed consumers of big data insights.
  • Develop guidelines for the ethical use of mobile network big data in collaboration with mobile operators so as to catalyze greater access to big data for development research purposes by reducing the transaction costs of releasing the data.
  • Catalyze the development of in-situ expertise in developing economies to conduct big data analyses for developmental purposes.


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