Finalists Announced in Open Data for Development 2015 Competition

Finalists Announced in Open Data for Development 2015 Competition

We are delighted to have three finalists in the Open Data for Development category of the 2014-2015 Big Ideas@Berkeley competition, which provides funding, support, and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams of students who have “big ideas.”

Sponsors: AidData (; United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (; Higher Education Solutions Network (; The Blum Center for Developing Economies (; College of William & Mary (

In-Kind Sponsor: The CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative (

Description of the Challenge: In partnership with AidData and the College of William & Mary, this category challenges students to develop a plan that leverages publicly available datasets to innovate solutions and address important development challenges. Applicants may submit projects in a number of areas, including but not limited to mapping visualizations, transparency and accountability feedback loops, crowd-sourcing tools, monitoring and evaluation applications, methodological contributions, randomized control trials, and spatial analysis. Strong consideration will be given to projects that can demonstrate broad impact, sustainability, and scalability to multiple countries or underserved areas.


Impact evaluation made easy and affordable (UC Berkeley)
Team Members:
Avantika Jalan, John Grams

Impact evaluation is increasingly being used to determine the effectiveness and success of development interventions. This project develops an impact evaluation software kit that allows small organizations to evaluate themselves, measure impact and collect data, to meet their targets, and stay competitive for funding among larger, more mature organizations. This project will increase the effectiveness of NGOs by easing the design, implementation, and analysis of meaningful impact evaluation through a streamlined, easy-to-use, e-tool that includes impact evaluation design, data collection, and data analysis functions. This will be achieved through software that combines two innovations: an easy-to-use interface that guides the impact evaluation design and the integration of tools into a single platform.

USeeData (UC Berkeley)
Team Members:
Anthony Suen, Daniel Dobalian, Jeremy Wan, Kyle Patel, Christine Puthoff
As a field, environmental science has not yet had the impact it needs to have on the general public, mostly due to limited amount of exposure to information. A powerful visualization tool would help bring all types environmental causes to the forefront and help the general population understand how the environment influences their day to day lives. This project seeks to achieve that goal by creating an open source environmental data visualization suite for researchers and data scientists. The tool set will be especially tailored toward geographical and energy related data; however, the end project will create a much more versatile set of abilities. This tool would make it incredibly simple for researchers to submit any kind of geographic data and create meaningful visualizations of that data, without the need for much technical knowledge on the part of the researchers

Visualizing the Invisible (UC Berkeley)
Team Members:
Jenny Lo, Sophia Lay, Faye Ip

This project seeks to develop an experiential learning tool that allows users to personally feel what it is like to be censored. The site would feature a highly visual and interactive system that allows users to see what content from their own document would be censored in China. The need for this project is twofold: there is a strong need to raise awareness among Americans about censorship in China to encourage citizen participation and engagement in free speech, and to collect more data for researchers to understand American’s perception and understanding of censorship in China. This visualization will allow users to submit their own content and then visually see words and phrases that are censored being removed from their document. The project will educate them of potential reasons for each removal, provide related articles that are censored in China and create an interactive and engaging narrative for users to recognize the importance of Internet freedom.


The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.

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