people looking at a piece of paper

Exploring the frontiers of big data in development

NIRAS works with DFID’s Frontier Technologies Hub to understand how to use the most promising big data sources within the wider evolving data landscape

21. Oct 2019

Based out of our Indonesia office and LTS International in Edinburgh, the NIRAS Data Futures Hub (DFH) has beaten stiff competition in winning an important contract for DFID to help them determine the future use of big data in development.

The short intensive research piece will involve use-case analysis and global consultations on some of the key questions for the future use of data. The Frontier Data Study will seek to address the key questions of concern to DFID, before it sets up its new Data Science Campus in the UK, and for all development practitioners in how we operate in the digital era. Questions to be addressed include:

  • What does big data mean in the development context?
  • What has the experience of applying big data revealed in terms of risks/pitfalls?
  • What do we know about who is left behind?
  • What is not useful for developing countries?
  • What are good principles for investing in big data in a responsible way?

Contributions  to the debate are very welcome and a discussion forum has been created for that purpose. A global open consultation will be launched in late October. You can also contact the Team Leader directly:

Meanwhile the DFH team has developed two online tools to help the development community get to grips with data quality and the use of block-chain, respectively. Please use and share these tools among your networks.

The Snapshot Guide to Data Quality provides an introductory manual on how to think about producing, collecting, managing, analysing, disseminating, and using data in any development project or wider analysis. The guide is based on principles which are at the core of the DFH philosophy.

The Block Chain Decision Tool is a handy app to download on your smart phone which helps you decide if you should use block chain for your project, and, if so, what type.

The Hub also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Edinburgh to enable efficient collaboration on data science related work. We hope this is the first of many. which will cement the Hub’s collaborative purpose.