Why we need data science
Our new series #Driven by Data will explore how data analytics is helping fix some of the world’s most pressing issues, improving the way development actors identify problems and design tailor-made interventions to address them.
High-quality data analytics are a powerful tool for understanding world trends and identifying or designing effective interventions and policies for improving the lives of the most vulnerable. We need measurements, statistics, projections and mapping to capture, diagnose and address the challenges that lie ahead. They are the foundation for meaningful policy-making, efficient resource allocation and effective service delivery.
Unfortunately, data is often scarcest and least reliable where it’s most desperately needed. So, while the idea of using data tools to inform decision-making on global development challenges is incredibly appealing, it’s often also very hard to achieve. Sometimes, even after the data has been identified or collected, considerable work is required to clean, update, analyse, share and act upon it effectively.
Our Driven by Data series will explore how data collection and analysis have been used to dramatically improve the way NGOs and development actors identify problems and design tailor-made interventions to address them, as well as the difficulties inherent the process and the best practices to overcome them.
The series will not look at standard data monitoring and evaluation processes. Many NGOs, and certainly most of our partner organisations, are data-reflective organisations and rightly so, continually learning from their experiences and data collection to fine tune efforts for maximum impact. Driven by Data will instead look at how cutting-edge data analytics and predictive data can be used to inform and guide major programme resource allocation decisions from the design stage onwards.
We will present concrete case studies from our portfolio partners, spanning different geographies, purposes and disciplines. We will reveal how machine-learning algorithms are helping bring out-of-school girls back into the classroom in India and how a Geographic Information System is making aid delivery to Syrian refugees and displaced populations in Lebanon more timely, effective and targeted. Driven by Data will explain how open access to climate data science is guiding smallholder farmers’ choices and operations in Latin America, and how the building of predictive risk identification models in Kenya has facilitated reaching those households most in need of primary care.
While there’s nothing new in grounding development practices in scientific evidence, leveraging existing data sources and creating new ones when needed to extract meaningful information and gain actionable insights, it’s unquestionably becoming more important than ever. Driven by Data aims to show you why.
Photo credits: Header © Medair / Diana Gorter