Rural Coops started out as necessities for powering rural communities. Can they show a way forward for urban economies?
"Rural electricity and telephone coops are one of the great sharing success stories in American history - largely due to coordination by the federal government. In 1934, only 11% of farmers had electricity compared to 90% in Europe. Private electric companies refused to serve many rural customers or price gouged them when they did. The Rural Electrification Administration (REA) was formed in 1935 to fix the problem by providing technical assistance and loans to electric cooperatives. Less than 20 years later, practically all farms had power due largely to electric coops."...
Vincent Huang has a great set of posts at Ericsson labs on preserving privacy in big data analytics. Over the last few years there has been a growing trend in the international development world to highlight the use of big data for development. Using mobile telephony call records, twitter postings etc as raw data sets that can be mined for indicators of social circumstances and systemic change. A key first step in this process is anonymizing the data so individuals cannot be easily identified from distilled results. Vincent's work discusses the requirements and algorithms used and is both a fascinating and essential read for anyone working in this area. Must read posts if you are involved in big data for development or working with private individual identifiable data sets. Click on the image or title to learn more.
The Next-Generation of Geospatial Technology and the World Bank’s Role in Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to enhance Development Outcomes. Many work programs within the World Bank are now embracing the use of ICT tools for engaging citizens, gathering data, disseminating information, improving transparency and accountability, and ensuring better communication and collaboration. These tools have been employed both in country-level work as well as through efforts to open up the World Bank’s processes. Esri president Jack Dangermond and World Bank staff discuss future possibilities of geospatial technology and how they can use those technologies to meet various development goals. Click on headline to see video of event.
Policy makers the world over are drawing increasingly on complexity science to help them make sense of a whole range of economic, social, political and security issues. However, complexity science has far-reaching implications for how policy makers understand the world. IN a good article by Adrian W. J. Kuah on Eurasia review -- Kuah explores the dichotomy and its implications. Worth reading. Click on the title to learn more...
Biodiversity informatics is about how to develop, integrate and use information about life on Earth,” said Town Peterson, University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and curator in the Biodiversity Institute. “We have a lot of raw data about biodiversity, which is to say we know places where particular species have been seen. But turning those raw data into usable information is a much bigger challenge.” In Africa, as in much of the world, there is scant availability of training in this important discipline. This is about to change. With funding from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, Peterson will lead multiple training sessions in four African nations: Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Egypt. CLick on image or title to learn more.
Interesting article on social-ethographic research and social cognition. Key quote "it is important to pay attention to what people articulate as their own understanding of how social processes work and how they as individuals might negotiate the complex social terrain, rather than simply looking at their actions…." Worth a read
The Open Data for Development Camp is part of The Kenya Open Data Pre-Incubator Program. This is a six-month experiment to help accelerate the ability for the public to make sense of data and to galvanize engagement around critical public issues. This event will take place from Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM - Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM at Strathmore University. It promises a combination of Keynote Speakers, Workshops, Best Practices, Speed Geeking, Hack Space, Networking, Exchange of knowledge and needs, Sharing Data Sets, Co-Creation, Open Data Visualizations, and Inspiration.
Sean Gourley's ted talk illustrates how through analysis of data we can gain insight into the underpinning organisation of highly complex systems - in this case War in Iraq. His Startup - Quid.com is certainly worth a look at as his research site - http://mathematicsofwar.com/ - read the Nature paper - its important!
As we plan for the future of our planet, it is imperative that we consider the effects of development on both the environment and human populations. A city is only truly sustainable if it uses natural resources efficiently while still fully meeting the needs of its inhabitants and a decent standard of living.
Recently, the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) launched its “State of the World’s Cities Report 2012/2013” which addresses the prosperity of cities. According to the report, the first step to achieving prosperity is to define the goal: What does prosperity mean in 2012? This is a difficult question to answer given the vast disparity of living conditions throughout the world. Additionally, it is imperative that the definition of prosperity today consider the needs of future generations. To this end, UN-Habitat developed a “City Prosperity Index,” which translates the five dimensions of prosperity identified by UN-Habitiat—productivity, infrastructure development, quality of life, equity and social inclusion, environmental sustainability—into measurable indicators (see page 15 of the report).
This definition of the prosperous city is consistent with the principles of a smart, sustainable and just city... further reading at the article link
For the past several years Netflix developers have been using self-service tools to build and deploy hundreds of applications and services to the Amazon cloud. One of those tools is Asgard, a web interface for application deployments and cloud management. Asgard is named for the home of the Norse god of thunder and lightning, because Asgard is where Netflix developers go to control the clouds. I’m happy to announce that Asgard has now been open sourced on github and is available for download and use by anyone. All you’ll need is an Amazon Web Services account. Like other open source Netflix projects, Asgard is released under the Apache License, Version 2.0.Click n the image or the title to learn more.
The UN says that each person needs between 20 and 50 liters of safe freshwater per day for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Yet more than one in six people worldwide don’t have access to this amount—and some 2.5 billion live without access to even basic sanitation facilities. Combined, these have a shocking impact: Globally, diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death. But the failure of international intervention has left the door open for grassroots solutions: In both Indonesia and the Philippines, a small entrepreneurial approach to safe water provision has achieved massive scale in an extremely short time span. The “water refill” industry, which utilizes low-cost technology to purify water on site in locally run businesses, has received little attention in the West, but it represents possibly the most effective means for water delivery in the developing world.Molecular biologist Ranjiv Khush and hydrologist Jeff Albert are now hoping to replicate the Asian model in other parts of the world, beginning in East Africa. Click on the image or title to learn more.
Despite the new agey title - interesting article at the design observer on mapping development timescales to those of the underpinning ecological systems that are required to support it, using balinese rice production as an example. Worth a read. Click on image or title to learn more.
A new assessment of Madagascar's lemurs shows they are far more threatened than previously thought. A group of specialists is in Madagascar - the only place where lemurs are found in the wild - to systematically assess the animals and decide where they sit on the Red List of Threatened Species. More than 90% of the 103 species should be on the Red List, they say. Since a coup in 2009, conservation groups have repeatedly found evidence of illegal logging, and hunting of lemurs has emerged as a new threat. Click on image or title to learn more...
This European Public Sector Information Platform topic report focuses on the question of how improved access to and analysis of data can help increase transparency, accountability and effectiveness to improve our understanding of how aid can be made more effective. Link to PDF file on web page. Click the headline to learn more...
A good review of Open House: Smarter cities, smarter thinking meeting on the 28 June, 2012 .
This year’s conference centred on the cohesive development of our cities. Delegates from BDP, Hawkins Brown, Nicholas Hare Architects, Pick Everard and Foster + Partners were among those present at the second day of the Open House Worldwide Conference 2012 hosted by CBRE in London. Worth reading. Click on image or headline to learn more.
by John Timmer "Pests that carry a human antibody make poor hosts for parasites. One of the easiest and often most effective means of controlling the spread of malaria is to control the mosquitos that carry it to humans. Unfortunately, that has proven to be just as much of an evolutionary arms race as targeting malaria itself; mosquitos evolve resistance to pesticides almost as quickly as malaria has evolved resistance to drugs.
Recent efforts have focused on forms of control that don't impose a huge fitness burden on the mosquito population. This general approach has been tested in the wild on the mosquitos that carry Dengue fever, which scientists infected with bacteria that block the spread of the virus. Now, researchers are reporting that they've developed genetically modified mosquitos that turn mosquitos into a dead-end for the malarial parasite. Their method: have the mosquitos express antibodies against the parasite whenever it feeds on blood.
Antibodies have a relatively poor history when it comes to targeting malaria in humans. Vaccines against the parasite tend to be ineffective, because Plasmodium falciparum has evolved ways of evading an immune response, often completely changing the proteins that coat its surface in order to keep antibodies from recognizing it. But these changes are only triggered once the parasite is already inside the human body...." http://bit.ly/LkMXEm
The underpinning concept that lead to Complex Insight is Data Driven Development - how we can use data that is either intrinsic to or generated by a complex system, to identify patterns, define models, gain insight and drive solutions that can help people improve their lives. AI-D - Artificial Intelligence for Development was created by Nathan Eagle and Eric Horvitz who pioneered the field of Data Driven Development through their work with identifying problems and potential solutions using mobile phone data from developing countries. Get involved. Learn more...
This is an old presentation by Nathan Eagle, Omidyar Fellow, Santa Fe Institute from May 5, 2010. Petabytes of data about human movements, transactions, and communication patterns are continuously generated and may hold important insghts into global development.