The U.S. Global Development Lab (the Lab) was launched in 2014 with a dual focus. One objective is to produce breakthrough development innovations by sourcing, testing, and scaling proven solutions. The other is to accelerate the transformation of the development enterprise by harnessing ground-breaking scientific and technological advances. At the heart of both is utilizing data for better decisions.
Scientists and program officers at USAID today have an incredible array of data collection and processing tools at their disposal. Real-time data systems, which take advantage of cheap mobile devices, plummeting computing costs, and simple open-source tools, enable the development community to capture performance metrics and engage in a dialogue with citizens. These advances are inspiring a new class of USAID innovators who are turning data into action.
In April 2014, driven by a common desire to identify and support these innovators within USAID, the Lab’s Center for Global Solutions and Center for Data, Analysis, and Research joined forces to co-create the Turning Data Into Action award. The award has two parts: the Recognition Prize celebrates activities that have incorporated data innovations for increased impact and the Support Award provides funding and technical assistance to implement new, data-focused activities.
The committee received 147 submissions from 45 Missions and Bureaus, proving that there is incredible enthusiasm within the Agency to use data and technology in programs. The award helps establish a community of these innovators on the cutting edge of evidence-based development.
The following publication highlights 12 unique ideas selected for the Data To Action Awards. Some have shaped huge initiatives, such as the $230 million dollar investment to modernize Pakistan’s electricity sector. Others celebrate the power of simplicity, like USAID’s mission in Senegal, which used simple, off-the-shelf technology to increase maize yields by 25% for 25,000 farmers. The hope is that these stories will inspire others to think about new, creative ways to use data in achieving more with less.