Over the weekend of March 15th, more than 150 people gathered for an event as part of the DC Big Data Exploration to discuss the reduction of poverty and the fight against corruption. This event was called “DataKind DC DataDive with the World Bank,” and unsurprisingly, took place in Washington, D.C. DataKind is a nonprofit organization focused on data and its role in development. The World Bank, together with several UN programs (UN Development Programme, UN Development Business, and UN Global Pulse) and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) came together to create the Big Data Exploration initiative. The goal is seemingly simple: to reduce the serious problems of global poverty and corruption through data. However, this goal is not as simple as it seems; poverty and corruption are two complex issues in the contemporary world.
The DC DataDive asked for statisticians, scientists, designers, coders, or anyone other interested parties to discuss the aforementioned issues. As stated, over 150 eager people showed up to go through the data, and to hopefully make a difference in corruption or poverty. These 150 people worked with experts to analyze data from the UN, the World Bank, and other expert-approved sources. The attendants were asked to look at two main questions: first, is there an alternative way to gather and analyze data in regards to poverty? Second, is there a way to determine if projects will face fraud and corruption?
Chuck McDonough, the Vice President of the World Bank, has said that the DC Big Data Exploration reflects the company’s openness and accountability. Throughout this event, eight different projects created by the World Bank and DataKind. The participants were split into teams, and had to come up with new questions instead of concrete answers, considering the event only lasted over a weekend. Each team evaluated poverty measurement and projects of anti-corruption, and presented their findings Sunday morning. An example of one of the projects is the following: participants explored food prices, as well as banana and rice consumption in Kenya, to find easier ways to estimate inflation.
Overall, the Big Data Exploration event ended with a recognition that it is a long process to combine data and results. The Executive Director of DataKind, Jake Porway, said that continuing the collaborative efforts started over the weekend is the best way to move forward. In conclusion, big data has incredible potential and DataKind will continue explore links between data and development to help those countries who need it most.
– Corina Balsamo