Big data and innovative uses of mobile technology are hot items in the international public sector, according to a story in today’s FT.
The UN’s Global Pulse is using a network of innovation labs to see how data tracking human behavior might improve responses to poverty, disease and humanitarian crises. Sarah Murray who wrote the article, said a trawl of online job sites at the UN and other agencies brings up a lot of openings for information officers, data warehouse experts and data analysts.
Raj Kumar, president of Devex, an online recruiting site for global development agencies, sounds a familiar note when he says that agencies want people who can reach beyond IT, people “who can think in business terms and understand how technology can be used strategically to solve problems.”
Agencies are exploring how mobile can be used to understand what is happening in communities — the movement of phones could be helpful in seeing where people are going in a disaster. Stockholm-based Flowminder analyzes aggregated phone location data to help relief agencies in emergencies. The African Development Bank is using GeoPoll, a technology developed by Mobile Accord, which serves the public and non-profit sectors, while Canadian Groupsia has developed an open source platform for information sharing.
Murray quotes Kumar saying that many donors are pushing agencies to make better use of information technology in their work.