Beyond open data: Insights through analytics

city analysis (Who is Danny/Shutterstock.com)

The federal government is taking big steps to share information and make data more free and open. Thanks to legislation like the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, agencies are now required to post standardized spending data on the USASpending.gov site. Other initiatives, like the Government Publishing Office’s GovInfo.gov, let citizens use full-text searching and metadata to sift through decades of digitized content. It seems as if we are entering a new chapter of open data. But what, exactly can governments do with this data on hand? How do citizens and public officials make the most of this unprecedented level of access to information?

Analytics are what allows government to use “data as a flashlight, not as a hammer,” according to “A Practical Guide to Analytics for Governments,” recently produced by the team at the SAS Institute and published by Wiley.

The book celebrates information sharing and the wide range of data available on the municipal level in particular — from smart streetlights that also collect info on pedestrian foot traffic to rail equipment outfitted with sensors so that repairs can be made as needed, rather than on a maintenance schedule. (An innovation that Washingtonians inconvenienced by D.C. Metro’s months of “SafeTrack” repairs might envy). Overlaying of municipal code enforcement and police activity data reveals unexpected correlations between property neglect and crime, and having studied algebra in high school is connected to markedly higher income achievement later in life.

“Armed with insights” from shared data, officials in Arizona’s Pinal County used the strength of analytics to more effectively understand already-existing health data in a way that would better protect the public from heat stroke. Investigators were surprised to discover that analytics revealed the highest threat of heat-related illness was not found among the elderly — as had been expected — but instead, among the young people of this Arizona community.

Small agencies can benefit from analytics as much as larger ones.  The book’s authors make the case that smaller cities may be best positioned to take advantage of technology advances because there is “less infrastructure to retrofit.” Since only 300 U.S. cities have populations that exceed 100,000, they add, the opportunities for data-driven innovation are substantial.

State-level open-data success stories are also hailed, most especially the example of  North Carolina, which “opened its 2017 budget for citizen scrutiny” with a new visual analytics tool.

But more important than making data itself available, the authors argue, is recognizing the challenge of melding data into analytics. After all, they assert, “typical government IT projects are built in a siloed approach,” which means that while agencies have torrents of data, often not a drop is shared. Teachers are not given the opportunity to proactively provide remedial attention to students. Police don’t have background information to help them approach a suspect with either greater caution or more compassion.  The book also looks at applications in transportation, public health, child welfare, prescription drug abuse, fraud prevention, and it methodically lays out both the depth of missed opportunities and the possibility of a brighter future.

As government at every level updates its IT assets, the book warns CIOs that “[a]cquiring technology for technology’s sake … rarely achieves the expected outcome.” Instead, the book makes the case that the emphasis should be on “building an analytics-driven government” and leveraging data to “build stronger analytics capabilities.”

“A Practical Guide to Analytics for Government” lives up to its title and concludes with a specific suggested solution. Establishing an official center of analytics, the authors write, can help agencies create a keen awareness of the importance of “building common competency … [that] enhances government analytic success through shared experience.”

Some cities have begun to work in that direction, and the City of Boston’s Citywide Analytics Team and the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics are hailed for seeking “innovative ways to leverage data.”

Such efforts could even unite an otherwise polarized political community, the authors suggest, since “both Republicans and Democrats value opening the public’s business to citizens.” Indeed, they contend that during a time when the citizens increasingly distrust political leadership, “open data can . . . promote legitimacy.”

More importantly, though, the authors stress that governments at all levels should be “breaking down barriers to sharing and accessing information … to ensure frontline workers, management, and policymakers have the knowledge they need.”   After all, as Shawn P. McCarthy, research director of IDC Government Insights, is quoted as saying about this book, “in many ways, modern government is information.”

[“Source-gcn”]

We are interested in hottest areas of tech: Nokia CEO

Image result for We are interested in hottest areas of tech: Nokia CEO

We are focusing on four vertical markets -utilities, public sector, large enterprises and transportation, Rajeev Suri said.

From making LTE-based drones that can save people from drowning to developing T-shirts that can predict tumours in humans, Finnish company Nokia has come a long way from being just amobile phone giant. In an interview with TOI, Rajeev Suri, president & CEO of Nokia -who led the company through a series of major transformations including the 15.6 billion euro acquisition of Alcatel Lucent, the divestment of HERE, the acquisition of digital health company Withings -talks about the 150-year-old company’s goals in areas of networks, the Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality (VR), digital healthcare and mobile phones. Excerpts:

In most markets, Nokia is synonymous with phones.With new direction the company has taken, how would you best define Nokia in one sentence? 
We create the technology to connect the world. We are a large network company and not restricted to just the telecom space. For instance, we have routers that power all the internet in the world. B2B is 90% of our business today. We are focusing on four vertical markets -utilities, public sector, large enterprises and transportation. And, we are building a software business as well that includes analytics, security, IOT platforms and AI.

How do you plan to grow consumer business? 
We want to choose the areas that are the hottest and fastest-growing areas of technology from an IoT standpoint.If you look at the digital healthcare business, it is growing at around 40%. VR could be very big in next 10 years.For instance, we have launched Ozo, a 360-degree VR camera that is being used in Hollywood, Wimbledon and UEFA. It has streamed live neurosurgery operation in VR that doctors can learn from.In digital healthcare, we have introduced connected devices, including thermometers and blood pressure monitors that are connected through a common app. For instance, our weighing scales can measure your arterial stiffness and warn you. We have an agreement with HMD for Nokiabranded smartphones.

Your vision about IoT…
Billions of devices or things will be connected. This is where 5G comes in. Homes will have sensors and functions, including gesture control. We are working on solutions to make smart homes but are not limiting ourselves.IoT could also mean seamless critical and elderly care. For instance, when a patient is in ICU, the monitoring level is typically 100%. In a general ward, it drops to 20% and at home it drops to zero. Now imagine a scenario, where devices can be miniaturized, connected to the hospital through the cloud and give feedback on the patient’s health proactively instead of waiting for somebody at home to alert the hospital. This could save lives.

What are the innovations taking shape at your IOT lab in Bengaluru? 
There are many things.Among them, some interesting ones are anti-collision software and an app that can warn and fine commuters for crossing railway signals.And, we don’t have to wait for driverless cars for the application to take place. The mobile app will warn commuters about a train and will have a way to slap a fine if they don’t heed the warning and still cross the tracks.

Could there be privacy issues with Aadhaar being linked to mobile number? 
It’s a great idea and like China’s WeChat, many things could be done through it in future. Maybe it can curtail movement of black money. But you must make sure that the encryption is there because privacy matters and there are risks, as mobile malware is also growing.

[“Source-economictimes”]

Innovative financing for health: Insights from the Grand Challenges Award Repository

Kenya’s Ugunja Community Resource Center will empower community health volunteers in Western Kenya with field-tested, mobile phone software to individualize early child development care. Photo by: Grand Challenges Canada

A new database managed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing opportunities to better understand priorities for funders supporting innovative health projects.

Years in the making, the Grand Challenges Award Repository provides information on 2,009 projects that have been through funded seven innovative health initiatives since 2005 — including five grand challenges, Saving Brains and Saving Lives at Birth.

To understand how these initiatives are helping the development community in Going for Goals, Devex has analyzed the data and produced a visualization tool to unlock critical insights.

What are the funding priorities?

The Devex analysis of the dataset reveals infectious diseases tops innovative funding support according to the dataset. Since 2005, this sector of development health has received more than $550 million in funding for 1,057 projects providing new and innovative ideas to tackle, prevent and eliminate infectious diseases in the developing world.

Of the diseases the projects aim to support, HIV projects dominate, accounting for 199 projects and almost $100 million in funding since 2005. The peak for HIV projects was in 2011, where 44 were awarded funding. Malaria and tuberculosis projects are also high priorities for funders, according to the data, each receiving $51 million in funding support.

Funding for maternal and child health follows behind infectious diseases in priority, with $136 million in funding since 2005. And a long way behind that are mental health and WASH, both receiving $22 million in support since 2005.

With 1,300 projects in the database managed through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the focus on infectious diseases is unsurprising — it is a high priority for the organization. So far, they have invested $357 million into this area of innovative research.

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health has also been an important source of funding for this area, managing $178 million worth of grants for infectious diseases since 2005.

But the dataset also shows that funding in support of innovation is allowing for experimentation and risk. For Grand Challenges Canada, 593 projects were classified as a “proof-of-concept” with 38 classified as “transition-to-scale.” Innovative funding for health is allowing for true innovation and impact of new ideas to be determined.

What is the geographic distribution?

The location of funding recipients shows a large sway toward research from the United States. A total of 771 projects have gone to the U.S., accounting for $393 million in grants. And a massive 86 percent of this goes directly to research and projects for infectious diseases.

The United Kingdom is a long way behind in second, with $93 million in funding followed by Canada with $57 million. Kenyan organizations have secured $34 million in funding and are ranked fourth in recipients, ahead of Germany and Australia.

In looking at the geographic location of projects, India tops the list in both number of projects (98) and funding (almost $20 million) thanks to Grand Challenges India. 2014 was their peak year for funding, with 36 projects accounting for $6 million. Maternal and child health is a focus for India-based projects, accounting for 26 projects and more than $8 million in funding. Close behind are projects responding to infectious disease — 25 projects and more than $4 million in funding.

Kenya and Uganda round out the top three for both number of projects and funding, with projects operating in these countries prioritizing maternal and child health needs within their borders.

Canada is the only western country to make the top 10 — ranked sixth for projects but 15th for funding with Grand Challenges Canada an important source of this.

Additional geographic data is available in the dataset that identifies countries supported by projects, however this is a field that is not predominantly populated within the database and provides only minor insight into impact. It is an area of the dataset that is hoped will be improved over time.

Click here to explore the Grand Challenges Award Repository data through our Tableau data visualization.

The challenge of collecting innovative funding data

Zach Charat, from the global health, discovery and translational sciences with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke to Devex about the purpose, development and future for the data repository — which he describes as been a long and demanding process.

“We wanted to create a data model that was powerful but limited,” he said. “Some of the initial conversations were crazy in terms of the tracking requests we had. But there was no way we could get the community to agree to everything, so we decided to simply focus on what is most useful — a core set of 20 or fewer fields to start with.”

Information within the database is provided by the managing organization of the grants, and the process of tracking funders and getting them to agree to the data fields for inclusion highlighted the issues with data collection on innovative funding.

Where the money goes, where the work is being done and potential beneficiaries are useful pieces of information that are available within the database, but not necessarily populated universally by the data providers.

“Most of the really juicy information is not in there — including outcomes,” Charat said. “But all of the data providers have a relatively clean checkbook, and can at least tell us where the money went.”

And it is still easily the most informative dataset available on innovative health funding, according to Charat. “We’ve got India in there, China in there, Korea in there,” he said. “I need to work on Israel but they only have a dozen. It’s actually quite complete — it is missing a few but if you are working on a dataset for innovative health funding, this is the most complete available.”

And the ease of accessibility to information makes this a valuable dataset for the development sector.

“Now we can answer question on a range of issues related to health funding, including maternal and child health funding,” Charat said. “Previously it would have taken weeks — or you would just have given up.”

What is the next stage for innovating funding data?

Now that the data is available, the priority is to convince the development community it is an important initiative to get behind and add even more value to the data.

“It would be great if each organization could track nuances in their data better, but we are in the early stages of collecting data and are focused on getting them out of the mud to see the value,” Charat said. “If they see value, organizations may look to hire a summer student to do a big clean up and provide more value.”

But there are also a range of options being trialled and tested for dynamic inputs, outputs and analytics.

“Some organizations want a dynamic API to collect their data but others may make a dozen grants per year — their upload process is manual,” Charat explained. “We are working through the development of the API to make it easy for an organization to hook into the dataset.”

Analysis in understanding the next stage of needs is important to progressing the database moving forward. The first generation of users are primarily funders who just want to understand what their colleagues are doing. Charat will be helping to scope the second generation use case of the site to identify and provide future services.

And increased datasets is also a priority in development.

“The next big one we are fishing for is the U.S. Agency for International Development data, particularly Saving Lives at Birth programs that are not currently managed by Gates Foundation or Grand Challenges Canada,” Charat said. “Saving Lives at Birth is a complicated one — even the grantees themselves don’t know who their funder is. It is a split funding disaster. That’s my last frontier in terms of big sets we need.”

For Charat, the possibilities of the stories and successes that can come out of the dataset are endless. “Once you get a good foundation of data, you can go crazy and dream up all sorts of really fun and potential applications,” he said.

[“Source-devex”]

Blind Pup Insights: June 29, 2017

Blind Pup Insights: June 29, 2017

Mom is not her disability — she is Mom.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

Say we are on a walk. I hear Mom say, “Look! There’s a bunny on that lawn.”

Heck, I’m a blind pup, but with my super nose on the job, I knew the rabbit was there 29 seconds ago — and two others Mom hadn’t spotted.

Then, a little farther down the road, she speaks up again.

“Must have been a pretty big animal coming out of the field here.”

I already have my nose to the ground where the tall grass has been flattened.

A fox had made itself a trail, my nose tells me. Cool! Too bad I can’t tell Mom, because she doesn’t have a clue.

Mom has the power to discern what I want her to write in my blog, she jumps up in the night if I seem uncomfortable on my bed beside her bed, but she’s got a heck of an olfactory disability.

BURNING COOKIES

It must be tough, in a world full of smells, to be aroma-impaired.

Even before I lost my sight, I delighted in the plethora of fragrances my nose pulled in and analyzed every second of the day.

Mom can smell chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, but I know they are starting to scorch long before — too late — she runs into the kitchen shouting, “The cookies! The cookies!”

VENGEFUL CAT

And even when Mom can detect an odor, it seems too much of it gets her nose confused.

For example, she frequently shoves her shirt at someone else’s nose, asking, “Does this smell like dog?”

She says it like it’s a bad thing; but then again, sometimes people don’t smell all that good to me.

Then there was the cat we had that, so rudely, would retaliate for the smallest slight by peeing somewhere other than her litter box.

I solemnly swear here that I never prompted that revenge by teasing her or stealing her food.

Anyhow, it was absolutely sad to see Mom sniffing frantically to locate the site of the cat’s latest “accident.”

“Here it is,” she’d cry. Then, “Nope. Is it over here?” Then, after finally pressing her face right on the spot: “Eeew! I found it.”

DEAD MOUSE

Once in awhile, Mom’s disability becomes my advantage — like when I detect the irresistible scent of dead mouse deep in the grass in the backyard.

I flop down on it, and while she suspects there may be a disgusting scent there, she doesn’t know for sure, so I get to roll to my heart’s content.

It’s only when we’re back in the house and she bends down close to unhook my leash that l’odeur de rat at last gets translated by the “challenged” receptors in Mom’s nose.

And then she gets out the Clorox Wipes and scrubs away at the fur I just worked so hard to imbue with that delectable mousey smell.

SO BRAVE

It might seem like I feel a bit superior, what with a nose that has roughly 290 million more olfactory receptors than Mom’s does.

But I actually admire her for the way she rises above her disability.

I have never once heard her lament her nasal insufficiency. Mom takes me to my gigs at schools and libraries and talks about how I never stopped wagging my tail through all my surgeries and losing my sight and learning not to smack into doors and walls.

On my behalf, she recites my motto: “I’m not my disability; I’m me,” and never applies it to herself.

She probably doesn’t want me to feel bad, since my physical challenge is so much less severe than hers.

My mom is so brave, living life to the fullest despite all she’s missing.

I hate to say it, but I don’t think her ears work all that well either.

Pepper is the Press-Republican’s ambassador for unwanted animals — she promotes their adoption through the feature Pepper’s Pet Picks in the paper. She is also official mascot of the Plattsburgh Lion’s Club, helping to promote the club’s vision and diabetes education programs. Her other message as she travels around the region is: “When life gets ‘ruff,’ keep wagging your tail.”

To learn more about her Blind Pup Project presentations, email Pepper at [email protected]; call Suzanne Moore, 570-2052; follow Pepper’s tweets, @blindpupproject; or search for BlindPupProject on Facebook.

[“Source-pressrepublican.c”]