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What does Big Data have to do with an owl?

Nak Moon Sung's picture
This is the story of an owl, but not any owl. This owl is from Seoul and it came into existence thanks to Big Data. How come, you may ask? Well, read on to find out.
 
 Meet your new friend: the owl bus

Officials in Seoul had long searched for a transport system for low-income workers who commute late at night. Although a taxi ride was an option, it was a very pricey one, particularly for a commute on a regular basis. Low-income workers do not make enough money to take a taxi regularly, and taxi fares are considerably higher at night. Furthermore, since low-income workers tend to live on the outskirts of the city, taxi drivers often are reluctant to go there mainly for distance and security reasons. 

These were some of the big challenges faced by policy makers in Seoul, a city regarded as a champion of public transportation. So what to do?

Part of the solution was the analysis and utilization of Big Data to come up with a suitable mode of transport that would serve the specific needs of late-night workers. The result was the creation of the “owl bus,” which operates late into the night until five o’clock in the morning.

In this context, Big Data has a considerable potential application in the transport sector, and for infrastructure development in general. In fact, World Bank and Korean officials will discuss on Tuesday, May 28 the theme “Leveraging Information Communication Technologies (ICT) in transport for greener growth and smarter development.”

Sowing the Seeds of Green Entrepreneurship: Startup Bootcamps and Pitching Competitions

Julia Brethenoux's picture

Heading back from a recent mission to Ghana, I felt really proud of what we have accomplished: training 20 of the most promising local clean-tech entrepreneurs through the Green Innovators Bootcamp. The words used to inaugurate the event are still in my head: “This bootcamp is not an end in itself. It’s the beginning of your journey as entrepreneurs.”

Indeed, bootcamps for startups and SMEs – as well as close cousins like Hackathons, Start-up Weekends, and Business Plan Competitions – are an increasingly popular activity used to catalyze innovative ideas and provide entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to launch their ventures.

In Ghana for example, infoDev -- a global innovation and entrepreneurship program in the World Bank Group -- organized a two-day training event to help a group of 20 early-stage entrepreneurs assess the feasibility of their business concept, identify their customer base, and refine their business model.
 
Organizing a bootcamp can be very challenging and time-consuming, but, when done properly – read “7 things you need to do to prepare for the perfect bootcamp” – the payoff is big. "Bootcampers" find these initiatives very useful to identify new solutions to the challenges they face to launch their businesses -- mostly access to finance, product development, and marketing. Furthermore, "pitching competitions" and "business contests" offer new entrepreneurs an excellent and safe stage to refine their business pitch -- a key tool of every successful entrepreneur.
 
One of the goals of bootcamps and pitching competitions is to bring together different stakeholders – from entrepreneurs to investors and policymakers – to facilitate the creation of ecosystems in which entrepreneurs can grow and thrive. But is it realistic to expect that bootcamps and similar training initiatives are enough to enable promising entrepreneurs to reach their full potential? The answer is simply: No. Make no mistake: Bootcamps are an exciting tool to create buzz and interest in countries that have little entrepreneurial history and culture. In most contexts, however, there is no follow-through with effective action plans that can keep the momentum going. This not only limits the value of these initiatives, but can also cause harm to a nascent ecosystem.

The impact of the Syrian civil war on its neighbours: the trade channel

Massimiliano Calì's picture
 iryna1 l Shutterstock

Civil wars are not only a human tragedy for the countries that experience them, but they can also have an impact on neighbouring countries. That is the case also for the devastating civil war in Syria - one of the most violent in recent times. The war has caused devastation and hundreds of thousands deaths, displacing over 6 million people, and forcing another 3 million to flee the country as refugees. 

Working together to create work for all: why partnerships are the key to the jobs challenge

Nigel Twose's picture
At this month’s Spring Meetings, the Jobs Group hosted a number of events focusing on the jobs challenge. Our overall objective was to bring together a diverse group from within and outside the Bank to take stock and consider the early insights of our work and what this means for our country work.  We wanted to draw on this collective experience and expertise to advance our substantive thinking from what we are learning in practice.

Are you teaching or taking a class in development economics in a developing country?

David McKenzie's picture
This is a joint post with Anna Luisa Paffhausen
 
We are currently conducting a study and survey on how development economics is taught in developing countries and would love your help getting the word out and/or participating.
 
Our survey is meant to be a stocktaking and study of whether and how developing economics is taught as part of an economics course in developing countries. We are focusing on undergraduate and masters level classes.
The aim is to use this to understand the following questions:
 

In Mexico, a rising rate of homicides has zero impact on educational outcomes. That’s good news!

Carlos Rodríguez Castelán's picture
Economists are often disappointed by research findings that show a statistically insignificant effect. This sometimes even leads researchers to stop pursuing a topic that might otherwise engage them fruitfully. This outcome thus represents a loss to social science: knowledge and insights are not put forward to be built upon.
 

Global Weekly: Low Oil Prices And Monetary Policy In Developing

Global Macroeconomics Team's picture

The disinflationary impact of lower oil prices should be temporary, dissipating by the end of 2016, but the coincident fall in core inflation and relatively weak growth in some emerging economies have led a number of central banks to ease policy in advance of an expected tightening of U.S. monetary policy. These trends raise the question of how developing country central banks should respond to lower oil prices.


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