open data in the global south
Dan van der Horst
School of Geosciences, UoE.
Open knowledge meeting, Informatics forum,
Data in the global south
• Limited resources for archives, libraries
• Limited resources for data collection &
• Weak physical infrastructure
• Lack of capacity & expertise
• Weak regulations,
• Limited ability to pay
• High levels of digital exclusion
• Low baseline; all progress welcome.
• Technological Leapfrogging
• Legal leapfrogging?
• Cloud solutions overcome geography
• Growing population, many under-served.
• young population, keen on tech
• Many applications for open access satellite
imagery (due to lack of ground surveys)
Famous example; Ushahidi
User-generated mobile phone reports. Originally
developed to track electoral abuse & violence in
Kenya. Then Haiti, etc.
• Originated in crisis; no patents, monopolies
• Few have computers; works on mobile
• No venture capital; open source software
Hence free for others to use & develop
Key sectors for open data
1. Education & access to knowledge
2. Citizens & the powerful; transparency, accountability,
policing externalities, fair trade.
3. Geotagging the (big, informal) city; businesses,
danger spots etc.
4. Agriculture; (I) threats e.g. invasive species, diseases,
droughts, flooding; (II) market info, linking buyers to
sellers, organising transport and (III) agronomic
5. Digital health; diagnosis & treatment, individual
health tracking, spread of disease in local population.
6. Making ‘aid’ more effective. Many-to-many support
So what for UoE?
• Many global south applications require (some)
• Our student-citizens; keen, smart and many
• Overseas students with local knowledge &
• Long list of alumni (deep pockets; positions of
• Global duties esp. towards those less fortunate.
• Good avenue for us to maintain our identity as an
old civic university; soft power for the common