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Paper From the Digital Impact Alliance Aims to Help Governments, Humanitarian Groups and Mobile Network Operators Find Shared Value in Unlocking Data for Social Good


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The paper was released at Mobile World Congress, the largest gathering dedicated to mobile technology and innovation

Barcelona, Spain – Today, the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) released Unlocking MNO Data to Enhance Public Services and Humanitarian Efforts, which provides insights to governments, humanitarian organizations and mobile network operators (MNOs) on the shared value proposition of using MNO data for development (D4D).

“Mobile phones and the data they generate provide an incredible opportunity to accelerate progress in parts of the world where progress has been slow,” said Kate Wilson, CEO of the Digital Impact Alliance. “If we work to understand where MNOs and development and humanitarian sector partners can find shared value, we will collectively be able to unlock data to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Digital Impact Alliance, in partnership with Delta Partners Group, investigated which data elements (location, user profile, usage and spend) were most useful to each development sector, in comparison to how difficult it was to extract the data. The team based its analysis on applications in five sectors: economic development, humanitarian assistance, health care, education and agriculture and to prioritize the most important insights, the analysis focused on:

  • Viability: The level of risk associated with sharing data
  • Implementability: The ease of data ingestion, transformation, storage, analysis and visualization
  • Replicability: The level of reusability of the same insight across several different development needs and sectors

“The Digital Impact Alliance is interested in investing in projects that can take the humanitarian and development sectors beyond the pilot phase to test more sustainable approaches to effectively using data for development,” said Syed Raza, Lead Author and Senior Director of the Data for Development Team at the Digital Impact Alliance.  “My hope is that together we can advance discussion on the challenges that exist and are preventing long-term, solutions-based D4D approaches from taking root.”

This research, as well as a review of previous reports, including The State of Mobile Data for Social Good, issued by the GSMA and UN Global Pulse in 2017 and the World Bank’s World Development Report Digital Dividends issued in 2016 helped inform a recommended “shared value proposition” for using data for development that is outlined in the paper.

The paper also highlights the significant benefits of mobile data for governments, humanitarian organizations and MNOs and includes specific examples of how to overcome current obstacles to using data for development.

“Our telecoms, media and digital industry specialization allowed us to better understand data availability and the potential to generate development insights applicable across use cases,” said Juan Jose Rio, Partner at Delta Partners Group.  “We hope our contribution helps to advance awareness and understanding by key stakeholders to improve the D4D ecosystem.”

The Digital Impact Alliance’s Data for Development Team is reviewing other questions related to data for development, including questions on market models, operational and technical models, and governance models for mobile data, to advance shared knowledge and better coordination between various D4D actors on this issue.

To access Unlocking MNO Data to Enhance Public Services and Humanitarian Efforts, visit here



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