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Leveraging Web 2.0 in Global Development - Suzanne Rainey, Forum One Communications
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Leveraging Web 2.0 in Global Development - Suzanne Rainey, Forum One Communications

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How we can leverage some online services to help international development professionals accelerate our efforts to reach the MDGs, and to make our programs more effective. Focus on data sharing, data ...

How we can leverage some online services to help international development professionals accelerate our efforts to reach the MDGs, and to make our programs more effective. Focus on data sharing, data presentation, markets and contests, and encouraging conversation around key development challenges. Presented by Suzanne Rainey, Forum One Communications http://www.ForumOne.com / srainey@ForumOne.com

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  • My first focus today is on opening up data and getting it into the hands of people who can use it for development objectives.
  • As you know, especially with the emphasis on this by the Obama administration, there is a movement towards open sharing of data so that it can be used in many ways. Basically, this means that the days of keeping data locked behind the gates of a large print report or in an organization’s closed database are fading, and there are several groups that are helping to make this easier, and affordable, that I thought may be relevant to you all.
  • And why is this of value in our MDG pursuit? Because access to knowledge is powerful. If we become better at sharing data, we can be better at --making informed decisions, --data can help us allocate funding, --we can use it to demonstrate where there is need, --to help us measure our impact.
  • The UN has recently put a large amount of data online at data.un.org. They’ve got 22 different databases, and the site lets you perform interesting searches by country and indicator— For instance you can search a country and then match it against the category MDG and retrieve data tagged to the MDGs. So this is potentially very useful for analysis researchers and decision-makers.
  • Feeds of data can be very powerful….and in the development sector, aggregating what a lot of organizations are doing at once can be very helpful in terms of staying on top of activities. Agrifeeds.org is one of the best I know of—it’s “The Agricultural News and Events Aggregator”. Users benefit from this communal repository—they share their news & events, and then they learn what everyone else is doing—there’s a built-in incentive to be one of the players.
  • Amazon has a relatively new service that lets you or your organization do the same sort of thing for your own data—you no longer need to build data repositories from scratch—you can use Amazon’s new web services to create your own public data set—or to retrieve others. I point this out because many of you probably have access to valuable data—don’t be afraid to think creatively about using it online, because there’s likely a widget or a community service like this that you can leverage…
  • Visualizing data so that it’s understandable and tangible is also important, and we’re seeing more useful examples of this. For instance, Flu Tracker helps us understand the severity of this issue at a glance, rather than sorting through long wordy documents. Maps like this can help us navigate regions important to us, and you could imagine taking this to the next level and showing as you drill down who’s working on flu issues in a particular city, how to contact them, where clinics are, etc. The World Bank is starting to do a nice job of this specific to their projects at geo.worldbank.org.
  • It’s also interesting to visualize your data in a way that is sure to attract some attention, like this chart of obesity levels of US states that brings it to a really personal level, simply with some creative imagery.
  • Google just in April launched a new search feature that makes it easy to find and compare public data. If you go to Google.com and type in [unemployment rate] or [population] followed by a U.S. state or county, you will see the most recent estimates. I think it’s mostly U.S.-based data at this time, But on their introductory blog post they say: “ This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more. “
  • My second point is about markets and contests. Is anyone familiar with Innocentive? There are some very interesting competitions that have proven successful in getting people to act—to answer a call, to provide a perspective, to contribute deep knowledge to a cause. So I’ve got a few examples of this.
  • Innocentive is an online marketplace that uses the term crowdsourcing-- that basically connects really smart people who have answers with people who want to pay for those answers. They are called Seekers and Solvers—and the seekers are foundations or groups with money, and the Solvers are all kinds of researchers and academics with deep expertise…and some of the challenges are worth many thousands of dollars. Just as an example, some of the Current Challenges under the category called “Developing World”: --Insulin Delivery System for Developing Countries --Improving Banking Processes in the Developing World --Reducing Risk of Malaria with Solar Powered Device It’s pretty easy to see that any one of these answers could have a big impact along the road to the MDGs…and that’s just what they’re after. This is a very powerful program. What Innocentive has found through the years is that often, the best providers of answers to these challenges aren’t in the same field at all…but coming to a challenge from a completely fresh perspective is invaluable. And it would be virtually impossible for this to happen any other way but online.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $100 million to encourage scientists worldwide to expand the pipeline of ideas to fight our greatest health challenges. And USAID is running competitions for creative uses in technology and mobile apps, through its Global Development Commons. These contests are valuable not only in the final outcome, but in the awareness generated along the way because they tend to attract some attention.
  • One of my favorite uses of YouTube is by the World Economic Forum which has for the past 2 years used YouTube to solicit global opinions on the issues they’re discussing on the ground at their forums. This year they have added this poll too, about East Asian economics. Now, There are over 300 videos that have been uploaded by citizens worldwide having their say, and this gives huge visibility not only to the forum, but to people who would otherwise have no way to share their voice. Any organization could facilitate a contest or put out a question and solicit feedback in this way; It’s potentially very powerful in terms positioning organizations as leaders and reaching people you might not otherwise reach.
  • Point number 4 is encouraging conversations And this is a big part of the work we do in global development, so I’ve got a few examples.
  • Does anyone follow 1 or more blogs regularly? What about writers for a blog? Blogs are a very effective way to encourage people to talk about development issues, and to reach media as audience. What’s special about a blog? Well, we’re web communications people, and what’s so interesting to us is that technically, they’re very simple software, and it’s simple to post new content. They’re kind of conversational; Technically, you can link them together say across a sector very easily, And finally, the comment feature is very useful in allowing a conversation to happen or a voice to be heard. So they can be a stepping stone to bridging that gap in communications I was talking about.
  • The same with Twitter. How many of you know what Twitter is? How many of you are Tweeting today from the conference? Twitter is a website where anybody can get a user name and post short comments on what they’re doing, thinking, or working on. Sometimes it’s very frivolous…but we’re seeing more and more development-focused Twitterers For instance, the CDC is using Twitter to announce events, new content on their site, a new podcast, and other initiatives. Organizations here in DC are using it in the same way—it’s like a mini blog post to get the word out about something—whether it’s an event, a new report, a conversation, or anything else, and again I’d call it one of those stepping stones helping bridge our communications gaps.
  • And finally encouraging conversations through community spaces is a way to focus a group of people on a specific project or issue. Ning is a platform we have become quite familiar with—it’s relatively inexpensive and customizable, and handles many languages well. Community spaces can be very effective in keeping a group focused and together over time zones and geographic borders as they work together on similar development challenges.
  • And finally--when it comes to getting your development voice heard, as many of us need to do, there are a lot of channels that take your voice beyond the walls of your own .com or .org web site.
  • The international development challenges of today, from poverty to disease to climate change—are important to lots of people—but the majority are not likely to stumble upon a lone web site without having been introduced to it in some way---There are a number of free services that we can leverage to find people where they are, including traditional email, Facebook, or a tool called Slideshare that lets you post Powerpoint Presentations, or LinkedIn. For instance, Facebook has over 100 million users today—so reaching even a fraction of those can be useful to some of us.
  • If you or your organization produces reports and documents, it might be helpful to post them on a site called Scribd, which is like YouTube, for documents & reports. It’s an excellent way to distribute your knowledge, and users can comment, share with friends, etc.
  • Or if you produce charts and data, use Many Eyes in the same way by uploading them.
  • And finally, Slideshare is a similar tool, for sharing PowerPoint presentations. I might add that my presentation will be there after today, at http://www.slideshare.net/forumone
  • http://www.slideshare.net/forumone

Leveraging Web 2.0 in Global Development - Suzanne Rainey, Forum One Communications Leveraging Web 2.0 in Global Development - Suzanne Rainey, Forum One Communications Presentation Transcript

  • Leveraging Web 2.0 in Global Development Suzanne Rainey | June 19, 2009
  • Why Think About the Web and MDGs?
    • We have challenges:
    • We don’t have enough data
    • It’s hard to coordinate across borders & time zones
    • Programs are siloed
    • We don’t know who’s doing what in countries
    • It’s hard to communicate
  • An effective solution
    • Web tools are not the solution…
    • … .but they’re often a key part of the most effective solutions and the most effective programs that you all are running.
  • Data
  • Set your data free
  • What’s the value of sharing data?
      • Make informed decisions
      • Determine how to allocate funding
      • Demonstrate where there is need
      • Measure our impact
      • Show results
  • Data.un.org
  • Agrifeeds.org “ The Agricultural News and Events Aggregator”
  • Amazon Web Services – Public Data “ Simply sign up & start developing in the cloud with these resources and tools.”
  • Flu Tracker
  •  
  •  
  • Google Public Data
  • Markets and Contests
  • Why Use Markets & Contests?
    • Reach people you’d otherwise have no access to
    • Find people even in different sectors
    • Bring in new perspectives & fresh ideas
    • Buzz factor
  • Innocentive
  • Grand Challenges in Global Health
  • YouTube Video Contests
  • Encouraging Conversations
  • Private Sector Development Blog
  • Twitter
  • Online Communities: Ning
  • Use Multiple Channels
  • Go where the people are
  • Scribd – online documents
  • Many Eyes – charts and data
  • Slideshare – online presentations
  • Suzanne Rainey | srainey@forumone.com Thanks!