Ebola: A Big Data Disaster

December 06, 2016 by Sean McDonald

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This study titled “Ebola: A Big Data Disaster” by Sean Martin McDonald, undertaken with support from the Open Society Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Media Democracy Fund, explores the use of Big Data in the form of Call Detail Record (CDR) data in humanitarian crisis. It discusses the challenges of digital humanitarian coordination in health emergencies like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the marked tension in the debate around experimentation with humanitarian technologies and the impact on privacy. McDonald’s research focuses on the two primary legal and human rights frameworks, privacy and property, to question the impact of unregulated use of CDR’s on human rights. It also highlights how the diffusion of data science to the realm of international development constitutes a genuine opportunity to bring powerful new tools to fight crisis and emergencies.