Malawi’s first data literacy bootcamp tackled voter participation, healthcare ratings, food security, and more
What good is raw data if it cannot be contextualized? More and more governments are providing data sets to the public, but how can citizens innately know what to do with the files and numbers? To make the process easier, the African Media Initiative and the World Bank Institute has brought “data bootcamps” to places with open data initiatives. Workshops have been held in South Africa, Tanzania, and Ghana. For now, we’ll look at the most recent event.
Malawi’s first Data Literacy Bootcamp was recently held in Lilongwe. The aim was two-fold: to teach participants how to analyze data (think: data literacy) and then to have participants use this data to solve real issues and challenges. Although the event only had space for 90 participants (split between journalists, developers, and creatives), the results are promising.
Thirteen teams were formed to build apps and websites that strengthen news reporting and have the ability boost civic engagement. At their disposal were an array of online tools and datasets, along with experts from the World Bank to provide guidance. The top scoring teams – based on factors like social impact, sustainability, and creativity – addressed themes of voter participation, healthcare ratings, and food security.
A shared document from the event (bit.ly/OpenMalawi) has a treasure trove of resources relating to both the event and Malawian public data. It’s well worth a look for those interested in ICT4D. Also, more than 100 photos from the Bootcamp can be found on the Hacks/Hackers Africa Google+ page.
For even more background, the Open Knowledge Foundation Blog does an excellent job explaining the need for data bootcamps.