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AI and Open Data

Open Data Needs for AI and International Development

Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

We are excited to announce a new project, AI and Open Data: Open Data Needs for AI and International Development.

Governments, researchers, and civil society tackling development problems in the global south continue to face challenges of data access and availability. Cutting edge analytical techniques, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are promising to increase the effectiveness of development initiatives, but still require quality data as inputs. Open data is still as important for sustainable development as ever.

As a field, AI receives significant optimism for its potential impact on sustainable development, including its potential to improve agricultural practices and productivity through aerial and remote sensing, monitor disease outbreaks, and plan and manage energy grids. Projects and investments in AI for development are already underway and we are seeing a range of projects utilising AI/ML, from the use of NLP for language preservation (see Masakhane project) to screening of chronic diseases, and forest monitoring and management.

Access to quality data for analysis and decision making remains a challenge. Core data like road networks, population census, and land parcels that some may take for granted are still difficult to produce in the global south without significant investments into a nation’s data infrastructure.

Without quality data, AI practitioners looking to improve livelihoods in the global south will find their potential impact diminished. Machine learning models still need data upon which to be trained. Initiatives around the world, such as the Lacuna Fund, are recognising this need for data. As we know, open data needs prioritised action to achieve its potential impact and identifying analytical needs is one way towards publishing with purpose.

What open data is needed now and in the future by AI practitioners for their development initiatives? What open data should governments publish to support these needs?

The Open Data Charter is excited to collaborate with Canada’s International Development Research Centre in this exploration of data needs for the use of AI in the global south. Our project will review current initiatives and projects in the global south. Stay tuned for updates in the coming months!

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Open Data Charter

Open Data Charter

Collaborating with governments and organisations to open up data for pay parity, climate action and combatting corruption.