The United Nations Global Pulse is an innovation initiative of the UN Secretary General, whose mission is to accelerate discovery, development, and scaled adoption of big data innovation for sustainable development and humanitarian action.
Global Pulse aims to: achieve a critical mass of implemented innovations, lower systemic barriers to adoption and scaling, and strengthen the big data innovation ecosystem. To achieve these aims, the initiative functions as a network of innovation labs where research on big data for development is conceived and coordinated. Pulse Labs include a headquarters lab in New York, a lab in Jakarta, Indonesia, and a lab in Kampala, Uganda. These labs design and create projects together with UN agencies, public sector institutions, private sector entities and academic partners.
Global Pulse has developed an implementation strategy which focuses on two tracks:
- Innovation Driver: implementing data innovation programmes, and developing toolkits, applications, and platforms to improve data-driven decision making.
- Ecosystem Catalyst: contributing to the development of regulatory frameworks and technical standards to address data sharing and privacy protection challenges, and engaging stakeholders on a priority innovation agenda.
Some examples of projects undertaked by Global Pulse in support of global development and humanitarian action include: Using mobile phone activity for disaster management during floods, Analysing social media conversations to understand public perceptions of sanitation, Digital Monitoring and Evaluation Toolkit, Using Twitter to measure global engagement on climate change, Estimating Migration Flows Using Online Search Data, etc.
Global Pulse has also set up a Data Privacy Advisory Group, which brings together experts from public and private sector, academia, and civil society, with the aim to unearth precedents, good practices, and strengthen the overall understanding of how privacy protected analysis of big data can contribute to sustainable development and humanitarian action.