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Big Data for Development and Governance Conference

The Big Data for Development and Governance conference will be held on October 21 & 22, 2022 at the University of Pennsylvania. This event follows on from the pre-pandemic Digital Tools and the Future of International Development conference in Washington, DC, which we ran with USAID’s Global Development Lab.

Organized by DevLab@Penn/PDRI and co-sponsored by Perry World House, USAID’s Center for Democracy, Human Rights, USAID’s Governance and Innovation, Technology, and Research (ITR) Hub, and Penn’s SAS Data Driven Discovery Initiative, this event convenes a renowned group of academics and practitioners to discuss the current state of big data and machine learning in the development sector. While the earlier conference provided a broad overview of topics, the this conference digs more deeply into four issues of crucial importance to both the research and practitioner communities:

  • The use of computational tools to detect corruption and provide mechanisms for accountability
  • The use of big data from media to measure civic activity, political polarization and disinformation
  • The use of large-scale, micro-level data and computational tools to study the causes, dynamics, and consequences of conflict
  • The use of social media data to monitor and respond to humanitarian crises

In recognition that many development organizations and researchers are currently developing tools and techniques to work with big data, the first half-day of the conference will include didactic sessions on working with social media data and training natural language processing models; these sessions will target technically-minded participants, but not those already proficient in such techniques. The second day will focus on the presentation of research on, and discussion of, the four key topics noted above.