Big data innovation winners to combat African challenges

datafordevelopmentThere is a tremendous opportunity in unlocking big data and utilising it alongside traditional data to reveal new insights that can help combat societal challenges such as poverty, disease, and climate resilience. The Data for Developent (D4D) Challenge Senegal was organised to challenge organisations to produce solutions for to help societal development and the welfare of the population in Senegal and winner have been announced.

The challenge, a partnership between Senegalese Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Sonatel and Orange was built around five core questions and themes relating to health, agriculture, transportation/urban planning, energy and national statistics.

40% of the submissions received aim at improving transportation and urbanism in Senegal. Scientists also focused heavily on health with over 20% of submissions in this area. 15% of the submissions focused on national statistics with the remaining 25% spread between agriculture, energy, data visualisation and anonymisation.

2014-15 D4D Challenge Senegal Winners

The first winner was for the University of Manchester and the Santa Fe Institute, with support from the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, winning US$5000.00 for using mobile phone data for electrification planning. All other prize winners receive US$2000.00 each.

In addition, three projects will be launched relating to health, national statistics and agriculture that have the backing of donors and partners to continue the work proposed in the challenge to deliver tangible and enduring benefits to the people of Senegal.

Energy Prize + First Prize:

Using mobile phone data for electrification planning

The University of Manchester , Sante Fe Institute, with support from the

Université Cheikh Anta Diop


Agriculture Prize:

Genesis of millet prices in Senegal: the role of production, markets and their failures

Université catholique de Louvain


Health Prize:

Uncovering the impact of human mobility on schistosomiasis (a water-based parasitic worm infection)

Politecnico di Milano and Stanford University


National Statistics Prize:

Virtual Networks and Poverty Analysis in Senegal

University of Buffalo


Transport Prize:

National and Regional Road Network Optimisation for Senegal Using Mobile Phone Data

Delft University of Technology


Data Crossing Prize:

“Using mobile phone data for Spatial Planning simulation and Optimisation Technologies (SPOT)”

University d’Avignon, Cheikh Anta Diop University, Laboratorie de Traitement de I’Information, Institute for Transport Planning and Systems, Zurich, (ESPACE), Avignon, France ; CNRS, France


Data Visualisation Prize:

O05, Data for Development Reloaded: Visual Matrix Techniques for the Exploration and Analysis of Massive Mobile Phone Data

University of Technology, SynerScope BV, Sensemaking Fellowship


Practical Application Prize:

Mobile Data as Public-Health Decision Enabler: A Case Study of Cardiac and Neurological Emergencies

Old Dominion University, University of Bordeaux, University of Tunis,  Aalto University


Scientific Prize + Ethics Mention:

Construction of socio-demographic indicators with digital breadcrumbs Freie University Berlin, Humboldt-University Berlin


Alioune N’diaye, CEO, Orange Sonatel, added: “We would like to sincerely thank the community of researchers who got involved in this adventure, the project partners and the Senegal Ministers who have agreed to take part by submitting their questions, as well as those who from near or far contributed to making ‘D4D Senegal’ such a success. It shows how the ICT sector can help the development of our country. It will be a starting point for aiding the development of Senegal and helping our fellow citizens to live a better life.”


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