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The Data Frontier

Author: Frontier Technologies Hub

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Data is critical to international development and any evidence-based decision-making. And with the rise in the volume and potential of digital data - such as from satellite data, mobile phones, and with AI techniques - there are many important questions as to how the world can benefit from these opportunities, both ethically and efficiently. Join us in this 7-part series examining the newest uses of data in development and diplomacy, with people at the heart of this new data frontier. Hosted by Valentine J Gandhi and produced by Frontier Technologies, Niras Digital Futures Hub and funded by UKAid.
7 Episodes
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We talk to Harriet Cross, the UK High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago. We hear about Harriet’s interests in making better use of frontier data technologies in her team’s work, including both her outward facing diplomacy work and the efficient running of the High Comission. Harriet also shares her important insights on how data technology experts and diplomats can work better together in the future.LinksFrontier Technology Hub blog post: MediumFull FCDO report: Frontier Data Study - releasing the power of digital data for development
We talk to Emmanual Letouze, Director and co-Founder of Data-Pop Alliance, a coalition on Big Data and development co-created in 2013 by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab, and Overseas Development Institute. Emmanual takes a philosophical approach to understanding how new data opportunities fit within wider global trends, explaining how new data opportunities provide a lens on the nature of our challenges as well as a lever to help solve them. Of particular importance to him are socially inclusive ways of innovating with data and building bridges between different disciplines, sectors, and social groups.Links: Data Science and the Art of Persuasion, (Harvard Business Review): https://hbr.org/2019/01/data-science-and-the-art-of-persuasionFrontier Technology Hub blog post: MediumFull FCDO report: Frontier Data Study - releasing the power of digital data for development
We talk to Stefaan Verhulst, Co-Founder and Chief Research and Development Officer of the Governance Laboratory (The GovLab) at New York University (NYU), about his extensive work and insights on improving the sharing of new frontier data sources (including business-to-government sharing). We hear from Stefaan about his latest work on the Data4Covid19 call for action, which helps organisations use innovative data sources to address Covid-19 and future threats in a responsible, systematic and sustainable way. We also talk to him about what AI governance is, why it matters for international development work, and what practitioners can do to strengthen AI governance for local good. Please take a look at the links below to the initiatives and projects that Stefaan speaks about in the podcast:Data Collaboratives: https://datacollaboratives.org/Data Stewards Network: http://datastewards.net/Data4Covid19 : http://data4covid19.org/Mobility Data for Covid19: https://mobility.data4covid19.org/The new intelligence paradigm: https://www.afd.fr/en/ressources/emerging-uses-technology-development-new-intelligence-paradigmMore on Stefaan: https://www.thegovlab.org/stefaan-verhulst.html 
We talk to Melissa Persaud, Director of New Business, Global Development at Fraym, about their pioneering work using frontier data technology to produce hyper-local (1km^2 level) spatial data where data is traditionally hard to access. Fraym’s data maps are used by companies, development organisations and governments to address a wide range of needs, including responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this episode, we also discuss Fraym’s work with CovidAction, a technology and innovation pipeline funded by the FCDO.  Links:Fraym CovidAction project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DA9FXtj5QY]Fraym’s website: https://fraym.io/ Frontier Technology Hub blog post: MediumFull FCDO report: Frontier Data Study - releasing the power of digital data for development
We talk to Edward Anderson, Senior Technology and Resilience Specialist for the World Bank based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Edward works at the nexus of urbanization,climate risks, and the leveraging of frontier data technologies for greater resilience in African economies. A critical challenge for many developing country Governments is the limited availability of spatial data that can inform planning and coordination for climate risk reduction, especially in fast-changing urban areas like Dar es Salaam. Giving examples from his work on the World Bank- and FCDO-funded Tanzania Urban Resilience Programme, Edward explains how to work alongside local government institutions to support the production and use of frontier data technologies to  enhance the capacity to identify and respond to climate shocks and disasters. LinksFrontier Technology Hub blog post: MediumFull FCDO report: Frontier Data Study - releasing the power of digital data for development
We talk to Tom Wilkinson, Data Science Hub Lead of the Data Science Campus, Office for National Statistics. The purpose of the Hub is to support UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) staff and partners, including the wider UK Government, in the use of cutting-edge data science tools and frontier data sources for international development. Tom speaks about the Data Science Campus and how we can ensure new data techniques can be taken up. In particular, how frontier data technologies can be put to use by FCDO and country government staff. Other topics covered included the synergies between frontier data and traditional data, plus big data ethics. LinksFrontier Technology Hub blog post: MediumFull FCDO report: Frontier Data Study - releasing the power of digital data for development
We speak to Tim Harris, user engagement lead for the Data Science Hub of the Data Science Campus, Office for National Statistics. The purpose of the Hub is to support UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) staff and partners, including the wider UK Government, in the use of cutting-edge data science tools and frontier data sources for international development. A key part of the Hub’s work is to support near real-time decision making through the automation of data collection and analysis processes using frontier data technologies and machine learning approaches. We hear about interesting examples where these tools have been applied in the country contexts of Ivory Coast and South Sudan, where in the latter, satellite imagery and machine learning is being used to count cows where traditional surveys are not possible.LinksFrontier Technology Hub blog postFrontier Data Study - releasing the power of digital data for development
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