Value of making datasets open

Posted on May 17, 2015  /  0 Comments

I was listening to a presentation on Work-related Use and Positive Livelihood Outcomes among Mobile Phone Users in Asia by Komathi Ale*, Uni. of Southern California, at ICTD 2015 in Singapore. I was pleased to see some of our publications being cited, but that was just the beginning. After the literature review, the author announced that the entire paper was based on the LIRNEasia teleuse@BOP data set that was publicly available. We have made all datasets open since the beginning of the teleuse@BOP work.
I had to read this op-ed that ran in a Nepal newspaper several times. The author, a former advisor to the former President of South Korea, believes that an application that picks up on fluctuations in Internet traffic to give people advance warning of 30 seconds to two minutes has relevance to post-quake Nepal. I was just wondering how the warning would be transmitted in a country where Internet access is not ubiquitous (according to latest ITU data Nepal had 13.3 Internet users per 100 people); and what one can actually do with 30 seconds to two minutes warning even if one had a computer, it was connected to the Internet and one was at the machine. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on ensuring buildings are built to code?
Telenor Myanmar has reported how many lawful intercept requests ity received in the first six months of operation: On the institutional side, the government still lacks the skills, process and willingness to make decisions, Furberg said, which can lead to delays. “Corruption is still very high on our agenda,” he said, admitting that Telenor Myanmar has received one claim of corruption in its supply chain that it investigated but was unable to prove. Telenor also has to tread carefully when law enforcement make requests for historical usage data about its customers to ensure it strikes the right balance between crime prevention and privacy. “We can’t hand out information without a court order,” Furberg said, but at the moment it is not always clear which courts in Myanmar handle these cases. So far, Telenor has received 15 requests for historical usage data and has complied with three, he said, which were linked with drug offences and missing persons.
UNESCAP in partnership with the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries (ITT-LLDC) held an Expert Workshop on ICT for Promoting Inclusive and Disaster Resilient Development, from 14-15 May 2015 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I represented LIRNEasia and shared our recently completed research enhancing the role of ICTs for Disaster Risk Management(DRM), that was led by Shazna Zuhyle. I made two presentations. The first looked at emerging trends in DRM including the use of mobile network big data for disaster risk mitigation and planning. The second looked at the role of ICTs for DRM in SriLanka.
Hernan Galperin from DIRSI had organized a session entitled Data for development: the good, the bad and the ugly. Martin Hilbert was originally featured as the star speaker who would tell the audience about the wonders of big data. Well, he did not turn up. So it was left to LIRNEasia, where we actually get our hands dirty analyzing big data of relevance to our primary clients, the poor of the developing world, to talk about big data. The slides are here.
It was in a difficult-to-find room, as far away as one could get from the conference registration area. But we had 50 engaged participants at the open session on systematic reviews organized by LIRNEasia at ICTD 2015. The presentations are below. Introduction Impact of mobiles Mobile financial services ICT in classroom ICTs in MSME The session report can be found HERE

Roadmap for revising NOFN-India

Posted on May 13, 2015  /  1 Comments

Indian Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar said that NOFN India is to be revised and renamed as BharatNet. The revised road map will emphasis the participation of states. Only 20,000 village panchayats were been given broadband connectivity by march 2015 although the target was 50,000. This proposed project is to be completed by December 2017. See here for more information.
Interesting reaction to Ken Cukier’s data evangelism at MSF. Additional proof that Ken wrote the editorial on ebola and mobile data for the Economist. The idea that big data from mobile phones could have helped predict how Ebola spreads and so saved lives in West Africa, if only telecom companies had released it, seemed both powerful and out of sync at a gathering of Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff last week. Ken Cukier, data editor of The Economist, kicked off the first of the medical aid charity’s two scientific days on 7 May with a charismatic talk that made the case for big data as the inevitable future and, in the case of Ebola, the “gold dust” that could have reduced fatalities. It was difficult to judge the audience’s reaction — there was enthusiasm on Twitter but big data came up just once again in the course of the day.
I have attempted to access www.internet.org and ended up with viewing the following message instead: Right now, Internet.org is only available with a Robi Axiata Ltd. SIM card.
Ooredoo Myanmar has signed a deal with a Singaporean company for the construction and lease of 500 new mobile towers. Thus, at the end of 18 months, the telecom giant should see their tower strength surpassing the 2000 mark. At the moment, the coverage provided by the private operators Ooredoo and Telenor outside of the main cities are scanty at best. One wonders where these 500 new towers will be located. GSM estimates that Myanmar needs a minimum of 17,000 towers in order to provide 70% mobile coverage in the country.
Have not had the time to do the usual analysis, so was happy to see this report in the Financial Times. The recently released 2015 edition of the Global Information Technology Report of the World Economic Forum has placed Sri Lanka at 65th position in networked readiness among 143 economies surveyed. Singapore is ranked as the topmost country in networked readiness and replaces Finland, which had been number one since 2013. Japan, which climbs an impressive six places on a year-on-year basis to 10th position, also joins the top 10. Sri Lanka is the highest-ranked South Asian nation this year and eighth among the Asian nations, beaten only by Singapore (1st), Japan (10th), Korea (12th), Hong Kong (14th), Taiwan (18th), Malaysia (32nd) and China (62nd).
We are organizing two sessions and are featured in two others. On the first day, 15th May (Friday), the completed and ongoing work on systematic reviews will be showcased at 1100 hrs. The team leaders on the education, mobile money and SME systematic reviews will present their ongoing work. On the same day, at 1530 hrs, LIRNEasia will join its sister organizations RIA and DIRSI in a panel that discusses data for development. On the fourth day at 0900, we are organizing a session on taking evidence from big data research to policy.
Cass Sunstein wrote Republic.com in 2001. I have the book. He updated it. The basic thesis was that people would enclose themselves in ideological bubbles and not hear the other side.
The first surprise comes from Telenor which has more customers than Ooredoo despite a late start and less money to spend. The second surprise also comes from Telenor, which has apparently made an unexpected profit. There are now at least 18.1 million SIM cards in active use, according to the operators, not including cards that have been sold but are not used regularly. MPT told Reuters last week it had 8.
Disaster response is an important element in the disaster management cycle. Post Nepal earthquake, a group of volunteers (Kathmandu Living Labs) is using crowd-sourcing for disaster response. They started their operations within 24 hours after the earthquake and consist of 36 locals and more that 4300 supporters from around the world. They use crisis mapping technique to map thousands of reports that come in to their workstation asking for relief. OpenStreetMap, a free editable map is used by them for this endeavor.
All eyes are on Nepal as the country is recovering from the earthquake that occurred a few weeks ago. This article discusses progressive trends that exist in Nepal despite its political instability. Uncensored internet, freedom of speech and inclusion of minorities are lessons that other countries in the region can learn from Nepal.