Imagining a Data Empowered Village

Pulse Lab Jakarta
Oct 31, 2016 · 4 min read
Exploring data visualisations, East Sentani, Papua province

The Rise of Datavores

Under an extractive model of data collection and knowledge generation, information is harvested from the peripheries, stored in a central repository, and subsequently analysed for central decision-makers to act upon. The concept of a data empowered village works on an inverse assumption: the closer people are to an issue, the better they are positioned to understand and act on the data.

Figure 1: Decentralisation and Data-Driven Decision Making (percentage who agree or disagree with the statement). Source: Nesta.

Local Sensemaking

The existing data-collection systems which accompany frontline services meet the needs of central government, especially policy-makers, but are often hard to use for frontline staff, such as with maternal health services on the island of Lombok, Indonesia, highlighted below.

Datavores Indonesia

Our previous work in Lombok highlights some of these opportunities. We observed that midwives are required to complete nine paper-based records for each service interaction, many of which have overlapping entries, resulting in large allocations of time to administration. These records feed archives and central administrations, and are currently of little use to the frontline staff for learning and service development. To streamline the process, we prototyped a digital system, with a single data entry interface that populated all the relevant databases. Even without the benefit of data analytics and local sensemaking, such an approach would free up valuable days each month currently allocated to administration.

“Many of our residents fail to receive the benefits they deserve because of outdated and inaccurate national data” — Head of a local primary school, Papua Province.

Data + Empowerment

As highlighted by our work in Papua, technology is just one part of a larger system of knowledge production. Around more sophisticated and open technologies for data governance, there is a need to wrap efforts to enhance community data management, analysis and sensemaking.


Pulse Lab Jakarta

Harnessing data for development, translating insights for social innovation

Pulse Lab Jakarta

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Harnessing data for development, translating insights for social innovation

Pulse Lab Jakarta

Harnessing data for development, translating insights for social innovation