The course strengthens the skills of UN staff and key partners in selecting, creating, using and interpreting data and statistics, with a focus on public policy-making and implementation. It builds on both traditional methods of data analytics as well as more recent applications related to, for instance, mobile technology, crowdsourcing and big data.

The course is designed and delivered in partnership with the Data Pop Alliance, a global coalition on Big Data and development created by The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab and the Overseas Development Institute along with the Flowminder Foundation. The coalition brings together researchers, experts, practitioners, and activists to promote a people-centred Big Data revolution through collaborative research, capacity building, and community engagement.



At the end of the course, participants will:

  • Have an increased understanding and capacity to actively and constructively engage in and with Big Data in their work within and outside of their organizations;
  • Have heightened awareness of and interest in the key terms and parameters, applications and implications of the most recent debates and advances in Big Data and development;
  • Have easier access to high-quality resources and materials provided during the course and be better able to disseminate and explain this material to their colleagues and anyone interested in learning about Big Data and development.

Course Methodology

Course Methodology: 

The training programme will use a blend of teaching and learning modalities, including traditional presentations, a keynote, interactive technical tutorials, group work, and a Data Expedition.

Course Contents

Course Contents: 
  • Day 1 Crumbs. Key terms and buzzwords in the big data and development landscape. The significance of big data within the data revolution and the 2030 Agenda in relation to open data and official statistics
  • Day 2 Capacity. Tools and methods to collect, aggregate and analyse data, as well as modalities and processes of data generation and use across multiple sources;
  • Day 3 – Communities. Overview of actors involved in generating, governing and using data. Use data to shape discussions and decisions. Identification of potential critical biases and flaws in data-driven approaches.
  • Day 4 – Partnership and Big Data. Public and private partnership on big data and due diligence.

Target Audience

Target Audience: 

The course is open to UN and non-UN participants with background and interest in big data and development-related issues and innovation.

Cost of participation

Cost of participation: 

The course is offered at a fee of 2,500 USD per participant, covering the following:

  • Four days of training with a balance of presentations, full group and small group work on case studies and exercises;
  • Exclusive access to online resources on Big Data and Development;
  • All course materials, resources and contacts.

Certificates of attendance from the UN System Staff College and Data-Pop Alliance will be awarded to participants who complete the course.

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