The Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) continues to break new ground in 2012. This time around we’re partnering with colleagues at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) who recognize, like we do, that equitable and sustainable economic growth is instrumental for countering extreme poverty across the globe. Being one of the biggest development organizations in the world, USAID has the resources to have significant impact on the livelihoods of millions. To this end, our colleagues want to better understand the link between their economic growth initiatives and their subsequent impact on poverty alleviation. This is where we as SBTF volunteers come in.
Our partners have access to a considerable amount of data which, if analyzed, will yield some very important empirical insights on the link between economic growth projects and poverty alleviation. The challenge, simply put, is to geo-code these datasets so that we can all better understand the geographic impact of various local economic initiatives vis-a-vis extreme poverty. Geo-code simply means finding the geographic location of said projects so that the resulting data can be mapped. USAID has already used automated methods to do this, but some datasets can only be processed by humans. But why map this data in the first place? Because maps can reveal powerful new insights that can catalyze new areas of potential collaboration with host countries, researchers, other development organizations and the public.
The local economic growth projects in question are aimed at reducing poverty and thereby changing people’s lives for the better. The results of the analysis, all of which shall be made public, will be used directly by USAID to fine tune their programs and thus increase their impact on poverty alleviation; welcome to Smarter Development! Given the extraordinary commitment of SBTF volunteers in projects past, our USAID colleagues have approached us to help them geo-code these important datasets. This is the very first time that USAID has reached out to online volunteer communities to actively help them process data about their organization’s impact in the field.
The result of this partnership will be a unique geo-coded dataset and a case study of said dataset that will be completely public for anyone to review. We’re excited to be partners in this effort since the project will demonstrate how crowdsourcing and online volunteers can play a significant role in both opening up development data and analyzing said data for the purposes of Smarter Development. This project will also provide SBTF volunteers with the opportunity to develop new skills while refining their existing skills and learning about how to work with new technologies.