We just spent three days with the fabulous CAID team from the DRC government. We’ve been working with CAID, DRC’s Center for the Analysis of Development Indicators, since January to establish mKengela, a national market monitoring system using mobile technologies. We contracted a professional call center in Kinshasa to call traders twice a month to ask about food prices. For more info check out our mKengela blog entry and our first market reports:
But CAID has even bigger ambitions for data collection and analysis in DRC. So the WFP Country office and our team here in Rome decided to organize a technical visit in Rome to collaborate further on data systems. Their coordinator, Grégoire Mwepu and two technical staff, Marc and Bertrand, came to explore solutions for data management and sharing. Sib, our VAM Officer on the ground, attended from our office in Kinshasa.
The result- great brainstorming! Everyone was throwing out ideas.
API and Data Management
CAID is very interested in setting up their own API- we’ve set up an API to share our data. But the rule for an API is get your data management straight first. Once your data is properly structured, then you can throw on an API on top- think of it as the icing on the cake. So we had a lot of discussions on what would be the best solution, not only to manage mKengela market data but all the development data that CAID is collecting across 145 territories on agriculture, health, energy, etc. While CAID works on data management, they can connect to our API for any data we have on DRC.
CAID has set up an impressive data collection system in 145 territories. But that’s a lot of data. So they were also interested in how to automate as much of the cleaning and analysis process as possible. We discussed what we are doing the Stats Engine we set up to automatically run data quality checks and calculate statistical tests.
Like us, CAID is interested in anything that makes it easier for people to understand, especially decision-makers. We also discussed data visualization and showed them our work with Tableau (see our blog entry on experimenting with Data Visuals and Tableau).
After two rounds of market data collection, it was also time to review mKengela. In our previous blog post on mKengala, we were excited that CAID had diligently collected so many local measurements. But it turns out that having so many local measurements of varying sizes is hard to manage. So we’d recommend starting with a longer list and then shortening it to the most commonly used units of measurement after a couple rounds. CAID’s representatives in the 145 territories are also collecting more trader phone numbers since some numbers they had were always turned off or no longer working.
These three days of brainstorming technical solutions were very exciting for us. With mVAM, our priority is to partner with national governments and see how mobile technologies can help their humanitarian and development response.
A huge thanks to Grégoire, Marc, and Bertrand for traveling all the way to Rome. Stay tuned as CAID puts some of the ideas discussed into action and we hopefully have a follow up technical session in Kinshasa later this year.