Next Frontiers in Big Data for International Development

The NIRAS Data Futures Hub worked with the Frontiers Technologies Hub (funded by the UK Department for International Development – DFID) to help DFID harness the potential of big data within the context of the wider evolving data landscape. The study will lead to practical guidance for Programme Managers and recommendations for future research.

Supporting the establishment of the DFID Data Science Campus, we will be looking at some of the big questions facing development practitioners about how to use emerging ‘big data’ sources and new technologies. As per our general philosophy, we will also look at how best to integrate new and traditional data sources.

Our focus is on harvesting cross-disciplinary views to help us best understand the practical implications of big data for development practitioners. By analysing existing research and consulting globally to understand the strengths and weaknesses of potential new data sources, by the end of 2019 we will advise DFID on best practice in adapting development to the Digital Age and identify important areas for future research.

Key questions we are looking at include:

  • What will big data mean in the development context?
  • What has the experience of applying big data already revealed in terms of risks/pitfalls?
  • What does big data tell us about who is left behind?
  • What is not useful for developing countries?
  • What are good principles for investing in big data in an ethical and responsible way?
  • How do we best combine new and traditional data sources?
  • How can we best support the sustainable development of national data ecosystems?

Key Staff