All for one and one for all
When I was in New York in September, I befriended Kareem Elbayar, a partnership manager of the United Nations (UN). He introduced me to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) program.
According to UN estimates, more than 130 million people from 42 countries worldwide are in need of humanitarian assistance this year. The cost is conservatively estimated to be US$21.9 billion. As of June this year, more than 70.80 million people have been displaced worldwide, an unprecedented historical high. In the presence of a huge and complex humanitarian crisis, a major challenge for all of us lies in how to provide immediate relief in the most critical periods.
Therefore, the HDX team decided to use “data for humanitarian assistance” to help define common standards for information, so that colleagues who work in humanitarian assistance everywhere can use the same tools to assess different situations. For the humanitarian aid work, which region and when do you need resources? A minor inaccuracy can lead to a significant miscalculation. By having complete information, we can ensure fast and accurate decisions to meet the actual needs.
Currently, HDX has published more than 10,000 data sets in 250 regions around the world, which can be shared and accessed by everyone. In addition, HDX is committed to the development of Predictive Analytics for humanitarian aids. Everyone is invited to review the past and present data of the same region so that potential problems can be understood in advance to prevent crises before they occur.
Using the same concept, Taiwan’s Civil IoT platform adopts the internationally standardized SensorThings API. For water resources, air quality, or even disaster prevention information, the world’s academic researchers and hands-on workers can get more comprehensive help through these openly available data.
Taiwan ranks among the best in the world in terms of transparency of government information. For example, the complete historical data of the government’s electronic procurement network has been made public to academic researchers this year, though this is not the case in most countries. Therefore, in the Presidential Hackathon in July this year, we collaborated with the Open Contracting Partnership (OCP). Many participating teams from various countries were inspired by the experiences of Taiwan for more good ideas.
For example, the CoST team led by Minister of Transparency of Honduras is actively using procurement materials to make environmental impact assessments more transparent and to resolve conflicts in economic development and public land use. The Mentadak team from Malaysia also uses open procurement data standards to identify conflicts of interest in the procurement process. This reduces the possibility of fraud and helps good manufacturers participate in public construction. Both teams won the hackathon at the end.
The success of Taiwan’s experience does not lie in the amount of information, but in the core spirit of social innovation - “all for one and one for all”. Through Data Collaboratives, we are contributing along with the international community.