Big data and positive change in the developing world

L. Taylor, J. Cowls, R. Schroeder, E.T. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper is the product of a workshop that brought together practitioners, researchers, and data experts to discuss how big data is becoming a resource for positive social change in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We include in our definition of big data sources such as social media data, mobile phone use records, digitally mediated transactions, online news media sources, and administrative records. We argue that there are four main areas where big data has potential for promoting positive social change: advocacy; analysis and prediction; facilitating information exchange; and promoting accountability and transparency. These areas all have particular challenges and possibilities, but there are also issues shared across them, such as open data and privacy concerns. Big data is shaping up to be one of the key battlefields of our time, and the paper argues that this is therefore an opportune moment for civil society groups in particular to become a larger part of the conversation about the use of big data, since questions about the asymmetries of power involved are especially urgent in these uses in LMICs. Civil society groups are also currently underrepresented in debates about privacy and the rights of technology users, which are dominated by corporations, governments and nongovernmental organizations in the Global North. We conclude by offering some lessons drawn from a number of case studies that represent the current state-of-the-art.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-444
Number of pages27
JournalPolicy and Internet
Volume6
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Big data and positive change in the developing world'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this