QCRI develops automated Geotagger for the World Bank
- Qatar: Thursday, March 21 - 2013 at 12:48
- PRESS RELEASE
Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) has developed a system for the World Bank that automates the geocoding of all Bank-financed projects.
The QCRI Geotagger system augments the World Bank's Mapping for Results initiative, a partnership with AidData, which manually geocoded all active World Bank-financed projects in 144 countries. Mapping for Results is part of the Bank's Open Data initiative, which allows for more transparency of its activities and access to information that promises to produce new analysis, tools and solutions to development challenges.
Patrick Meier, Director of Social Innovation at QCRI, said of the Institute's involvement, "We have a strong social mission at QCRI and this project reflects our commitment to that mission. The Geotagger enables the World Bank and partners to turn Open Data into useable data, which will bring more transparency and accountability to the international development space. QCRI's Data Analytics team is well placed to support the World Bank's effort in making sense of this development data thanks to our advanced expertise in applied analytics research."
QCRI's Data Analytics team has built expertise focused on researching core data management challenges such as data extraction, integration and quality, with the objective of identifying new directions and techniques for enabling the effective use of data for decision-making. Leveraging this expertise, the team developed a system to access the World Bank's datasets, retrieve documents, extract and report relevant information on the Bank's projects.
The system identifies locations and place names in documents from the World Bank Projects Data API using the Stanford Name Entity Recognizer and Alchemy, a text-mining platform. The place names are then geocoded using Google Geocoder, Yahoo! Placefinder and Geonames, and are visualised on a map.
The system also accesses and geocodes information from the World Bank's procurement notices in order to compare project documents with procurement data, which has been made available for the first time in the Mapping for Results initiative. The developed system thus combines the locations with financial data to provide a holistic view on project expenses.
Aleem Walji, Director at World Bank Innovation Labs, welcomed this exciting opportunity to partner with Qatar Computing Research Institute. "Our vision is to innovate by bringing technology into World Bank projects and we hope to collaborate on other exciting project in the future," he said.
Since the launch of Mapping for Results, three generations of interns read many thousands of pages of World Bank project documentation, safeguard documents, and results reports to identify and geocode exact project locations. Though very successful, the initiative had encompassed only the active projects due to its heavy reliance on manpower.
The automation and effectiveness provided by QCRI's Geotagger system also enables the geocoding and mapping of historic projects, allowing researchers to look at the evolving World Bank portfolio from a new, more disaggregated and spatial angle.
"QCRI's Geotagger tool will be a huge help to AidData and the Open Aid Partnership in geocoding other donors' project portfolios," said Stephen Davenport, Co-Executive Director of AidData and Senior Director for Innovation at the Development Gateway. Looking forward towards future projects with Qatar Computing Research Institute, he continued, "We hope to explore opportunities around automatically identifying the sector activities of development projects and crawling the web for project-specific sources of development finance information."
Brad Parks, AidData's Co-Executive Director at the College of William & Mary in the US, noted, "the Geotagger tool will support AidData's efforts - through a new partnership with USAID and its Higher Education Solutions Network - to generate geospatial aid information and decision support tools that help development finance institutions make smarter policy and programming decisions."
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