At DataJam, Innovators and Entrepreneurs Unleash Open Data for Global Development

January 3, 2013
DataJam With USAID Administrator Shah and Chief Technology Officer Park

A remarkable new tool is becoming increasingly available to help end extreme poverty and ensure dignity and opportunity for people around the world -- a tool that few people think about when they consider how to bolster international development efforts. That tool is data, and in particular "open data" -- data freely available in formats that are easy to use in new and innovative ways, while rigorously protecting privacy.

The possibilities are truly endless -- it could be regional epidemiological statistics being made available to community health workers; or real-time weather information being made available to small-holder farmers; or loan information being made accessible to first-time borrowers. In these and countless other arenas, open data has the potential to not only improve transparency and coordination, but also dramatically accelerate progress in development.

In order to explore new ways of leveraging open data for development and to help strengthen our commitment to open data with others inside and outside of government, we joined with colleagues from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on December 10 for a DataJam at the White House.

This unprecedented event brought world-class innovators and entrepreneurs together with U.S. government leaders and decision-makers to discuss the impact that open development data has already had on strengthening entrepreneurship in the United States and in developing countries -- and the additional impact that can be had going forward. We also brainstormed about new partnerships we could form to facilitate the opening of new pockets of data that many of us deal with in our work every day and that have potential added value across the development domain. For USAID, this effort reflects our increasing focus on throwing open the doors of development to problem-solvers everywhere.

The DataJam showcased some of the groundbreaking work that innovators and entrepreneurs have accomplished with open data in the development sphere -- from tracking election transparency in Kenya with the non-profit Ushahidi; to the State Department's Tech@State and TechCamp conference and workshop platforms that bring in-country technologists and entrepreneurs together to solve local -- and global -- problems; to the exciting announcement that FEWSnet, USAID's Famine Early Warning System Network, is launching a competition to analyze USAID data to better inform and improve our own decision-making. As Presidential Innovation Fellow Dmitry Kachaev, explained, "Technology is not the hard part. The hard part is getting the information."

That's where we all come in, and that's why we are issuing a call to action for open data. There are data sets and information resources across the government that could serve a greater good and be effective tools for change if they were made more accessible and usable, while ensuring that privacy and confidentiality are always rigorously protected. We want to collect these data -- these potential change agents -- and present them in their most creative and effective forms. We want to engage students and volunteers to help us clean and organize the data to make this information accessible and useful, just as USAID's Development Credit Authority did with its crowdsourcing project to clean up and map loan data records. We want these same data to be available to entrepreneurs and innovators who are building new organizations and creating local and lasting change.

Although we often talk about our business-like focus on data and the importance of delivering concrete results, the reality is that the open data movement has been inspired not only by analytical logic but also in large part by a shared passion to help change the world. When you apply your vision and expertise to this task -- when you add to the growing stores of data for use in new and creative ways -- you are helping an infant take its first easy breath and live to celebrate her fifth birthday. You are helping farmers grow more nutritious foods, fostering healthy families and prosperous communities. You are helping end the enduring outrage of human trafficking. This is the power of open data.

We're excited and think you should be too.

Related Content: Watch a video of the DataJam event, visit USAID's website for more information about open data, and learn more about the Presidential Innovation Fellows.Editor's Note: This entry also appears on USAID's Impact Blog.



"real" L.
January 4, 2013

Robert L. in Canada writes:

Open source, and truly secure! and clean data is changing our world right in front of our eye,s.It is absolutly fascinating to watch this happen in real time.Your dept has been and is! the best,most effective and I must say,"open" Goverment source for action on this that our world has ever seen,Education,diologues,asking for idea,s![very important], and enacting solutions as fast as they appear,, impressive! I must say,..well done!, more please?..This is new territory we are on here, a learnig curve, this is why OOTB idea,s must be sought and investigated for usefullness, it is only those who have the need, that so often come up with the real time solutions, asking and digesting those idea,s then enacting them is making "it" happen,.."engage"

South Korea
January 7, 2013

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Q- what purpose of Google ceo and former governer visit North Korea?

and who are originate and support?

The White House? therefore State object?

Please, answer to me.

i want.............................Open from North Korea.

South Korea
January 8, 2013

Palgye in South Korea writes:

If i see the new video
Sec appears
i believe Sec's back.
And never say they are just pretend, Sec's saying. not give any opportunity, even press political press to me, very hard.
i have not money buy a rice.

not south korea that's are north korea

why State object Google ceo and company visit to north korea?

President and Sec Hillary......
go with us President's and Sec's to
north korea. Power game is not good in
Syria and north korea.

then Osama bin Laden case...

at any co-work, at any President and Sec had used that case for politically.

so not good news, appears tv news show. they are just ridiculous you are doing.

i think.

not thank you in this case.

United States
January 8, 2013

Mari in the U.S.A. writes:

You don't get development from data. You get it from power plants, water diversion projects, railroads, and so forth. Data can contribute to the process, but without actual concrete development, all the gee-whiz computer stuff is just for entertainment. Starving people in the Maghreb will have access to American porn.

South Korea
January 10, 2013

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Google's CEO personally wish that owns the exclusive rights for the internet business, in North-Korea, I think.But, perhaps, the judgment of the Department of the President Obama who personally. Your consultation, issues which need to be addressed, and how to be Koreans or Korean companies to participate personally, but wish me some Internet companies in Korea, benevolent enterprises exist is not.

, Perhaps, the way in which the internet network and connect to China's Internet companies of the United States, founded North Korea's Internet system is able to get him established, North Korea's own Internet network, is likely to be installed across North Personally I think. North Korea's unique and proprietary way, perhaps, to start, I'd expect ....

A little too bad .....

PS: Wildfires in Australia, and many people are suffering, their pain to be cured as soon as possible.


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