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Pokémon Go, the mobile monster-catching game that three weeks ago took over the phone screens and attention spans of millions of people seemingly overnight, is the first digital sensation that has bridged the gap between the traditional, mostly private domain of video games and mobile technologies and the “real” world — known in the tech... Read More

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In 2007, George Overholser delivered a speech in Florida, at America Forward’s Gathering of Leaders, in which he proposed a $1 billion social investment fund to advance proven intervention programs with a combination of social returns to beneficiaries and fiscal returns to government. This was the first write-up of his idea of “money back... Read More

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When I started my stint as a public servant with a prior background in the private sector, one question puzzled me and continued to remain in my mind: Why does government spending and activities tend to focus on inputs rather than outcome or impact? As time passed, I was able to see and understand various reasons behind this approach:... Read More

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IoT is defined as “the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.” Unless you work in technology or ‘Smart Cities’ it can be difficult to mentally translate the concept of the IoT to the reality.... Read More

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In 1979, China glanced into America’s creative soul. President Nixon had invited a Chinese delegation to see the happenings of Silicon Valley. The delegation’s leader, Chen Chunxian, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was blown away by what he saw. And how could he not be? What a spectacle it must have been, seeing giants in their... Read More

When a fire broke out in a New Orleans home in October 2015, safety procedures worked exactly as they should – smoke alarms sounded, the occupants were alerted to the danger, and all 11 residents safely escaped from the house. Earlier that year, a new program from the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) and the city’s analytics team, the Office... Read More

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In my previous post, I covered the governance implications of Bitcoin. This post delves into the underlying technology behind Bitcoin — blockchain. Almost everybody agrees blockchain is the real game-changing innovation that enabled Bitcoin’s success. However, these are still early days for the technology. Apart from Bitcoin, most blockchain... Read More

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How do you get rural Kenyan communities to fund solid waste management projects? This is the question that SAFI, a Kenya-based non-profit focused on sanitation projects, asked itself. In particular, could mobilizing communities to partake in participatory budgeting increase local funding for waste management projects? Participatory budgeting (... Read More

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I still remember the last work meeting I had as a public servant at the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion in Peru before coming to Harvard Kennedy School in which we spent about three hours discussing whether one ministry was willing to share its data with another one, even though the two ministries were working together on a common... Read More

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Young people who drop out of high school face a disproportionate risk of negative social outcomes ranging from unemployment to engaging in criminal activities. Even among those who do get a job, average weekly earnings are significantly lower — around $488 for adults who lack a high school diploma or equivalency (HSE) versus $668 for those with... Read More

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Ideas for change and improvement are within each of us, but how do we unlock this creative potential? This is the question we are exploring in our work as an Innovation and Research Unit. We believe unlocking creative potential begins with nurturing the right conditions within the organization — conditions that provide all staff, irrespective... Read More

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When talking about international development, it is often said that fixed recipes do not work well in every context. Pretending that, as an outsider, one could determine what should be done to fix or improve the provision of public services in a certain context based in what worked in another place is risky and can even be harmful. This was the... Read More

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