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Five data initiatives that help improve lives in India: report

The report mentioned five private data initiatives from India that have made a difference to improve lives. (Digpu)Premium
The report mentioned five private data initiatives from India that have made a difference to improve lives. (Digpu)

  • World Bank's World Development Report titled 'Data for Better Lives' identified five Indian tech platforms that operate in the space of education, agriculture, addressing civic concerns, policy making and tackle corruption through transparency initiatives

The World Bank’s flagship World Development Report released last month focused on “Data for Better Lives" that surveys the emerging landscape and provides policy makers with a framework for thinking through the issues, opportunities, and trade-offs by citing best practices from around the world. The report mentioned five private data initiatives from India that have made a difference to improve lives.

1 Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy in India

Novel ways to create and use data enable civil society to hold governments accountable for policies and to better monitor corruption. For example, utilizing crowdsourced data and web scraping (extracting data from websites), social media discussion boards are emerging as ways in which local leaders can act against corrupt officials and receive realtime feedback on the impact of anticorruption policies. The “I paid a bribe" online initiative launched in 2011 by the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy in India has developed into one of the largest crowdsourced anticorruption platforms in the world. This tool collects citizens’ reports of corrupt behaviour and merges them with geospatial data to highlight problem areas. In doing so, it empowers individuals, civil society, and governments to fight corrupt behaviour.

2 NubeSol

Managing production and marketing risks is a key challenge for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. Remote sensing and geographic information systems, together with data analytics, provide insights into farming operations and propel the development of smart farming, which can help manage production and financial risks. For example, NubeSol, an Indian agri-tech firm, provides sugarcane growers with a monthly yield map of their plots, with forecasts of yields and recommendations on inputs such as fertilizer based on remote sensing and data analytics.

3 Byju's

Recent advances in big data and AI offer opportunities to provide individualized learning experiences for students. Machine learning and data analytics techniques can help identify students’ behavioral patterns (such as mistakes made frequently in tests) usually in a more efficient way than teachers. Byju's, a digital supplemental learning platform in India, suggests tailored learning materials such as videos, quizzes, and flashcards that match the needs of individual students. Besides analyzing individual learning behaviours, the platform also analyzes aggregate data on how all students learn on its platform. If many students are having trouble with similar types of problem sets, the system flags the need to add more explanatory videos or materials to the entire platform.

4 Civic Cops

Emerging data types are enabling civil society to better monitor corruption. Utilizing crowdsourced data and web scraping, social media discussion boards are emerging as ways in which local leaders can act against corrupt officials and receive real-time feedback on the impact of anticorruption policies. Similarly, Civic Cops, a start-up, provides a suite of digital platforms to connect governments with civil society, notably offering a service that allows civic complaints and citizen service requests to be filed by mobile phone and directed to the corresponding public authorities.

5 Data Governance Network

Outside of government, civil society organizationCSOs, specialty NGOs, universities, think tanks, research organizations, the news media, and even individual citizens play an important monitoring and evaluation role. Nongovernmental monitoring of issues of public concern can be useful in assessing government performance, as well as signaling accountability failures, such as corruption or inefficiencies or gaps in public service delivery. Non-governmental, independent actors can provide convenient and consistent access to accurate data and reduce data governance and management inefficiencies, while offering a host of actionable perspectives and advice. For example, the Data Governance Network is India’s first policy-oriented research network on data governance, bringing together several leading think tanks. It was founded to inform policy making.

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