Data for Good: A challenge of our era

  • Olivier Usher

    Olivier Usher

    Head of Research

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  • Piotr Gierszewski

    Piotr Gierszewski

    Senior Researcher

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  • Shae Harmon

    Shae Harmon

    Communications Manager

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28 Feb 2018

Access to information is a necessity to make the world a more equal place.

The Digital Revolution has improved quality of life and brought prosperity to many people around the world. New ways to record, store, structure, search and make sense of various types of information have transformed the way we live and – on the whole – has enabled us to be more connected, informed and productive.

However, we have yet to fully make use of these digital advancements and distribute their benefits – fairly and inclusively – to people around the globe. Our growing dependence on digital and big data infrastructures create even more access barriers for people seeking to contribute to the global economy.

The gaps in data availability between nations are accelerating inequality of wealth and opportunities. Over half of the countries in the world do not record accurate birth and death records, while an estimated 1.1 billion people on the planet do not have any form of official identification. The lack of basic records makes it hard to reach those in need and connect them with services and support such as immunisations, microfinance, voting, humanitarian aid, training and maternal care – all of which could be facilitated by data-driven infrastructure.

We want to empower people with the means and skills necessary to gain access to information, make sense of it and use it to benefit themselves and their communities.

This is why we are using the Challenges of Our Era Summit – to be held in Milan on 6 and 7 March 2018 – to bring together experts and stakeholders who are tackling data challenges that have the power to make the world a more equal place.

The Data for Good stream at our Summit will feature introductory talks from Stuart Russell (Professor of Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley), Paula Hidalgo-Sanchís (Manager at Pulse Lab Kampala, United Nations Global Pulse), Mario Calderini (Full Professor, Politecnico di Milano) and Iana Aranda (President of Engineering for Change, LLC).

We will then move from setting the scene to the core activity of the Summit – the expert workshops. Every delegate will pick one of the topics below and will have a chance to influence the design of new challenge initiatives.

The workshops will focus on:

  • Modernising education: How can we modernise education to be more widespread, inclusive and cost-effective?
  • Linking people and markets equitably: How can we link the supply and demand in a way which is more efficient and fair?
  • Financial inclusion: How can we improve people’s quality of life by providing them with financial tools?
  • Evidence-driven governance: How do we improve the impact of governance with fair and transparent decision-making tools?

For these workshops, we are joining forces with our content partners United Nations Global PulseThe Open Data Institute and Deep Science Ventures.

At Nesta, we are strong supporters of stimulating new enterprise and endeavour with challenge-driven innovation and the domain of Data for Good is no different. We have already done so with The Data Driven Farming Prize, our recent prize into information tools for Nepalese smallholder farmers developed with USAID as part of the US Government’s Feed the Future initiative. The Summit will be a concrete first step towards creating new challenge initiatives that change lives for the better in the developing world.

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