This project was initiated by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2009 to develop a landmark forecast on big data, cities, and digital inclusion. This work has been widely circulated and shaped policymaking and philanthropic discussions in countries around the world including the United States, the United Kingdom, India and beyond.

The goal of this map was to present a thoroughly-researched view of future opportunities and dilemmas. Our strategy for developing the content was to present a plethora of ‘solution templates’, examples of strategies for using big data to improve inclusion that were playing at the intersection of socioeconomic and technology trends. The grid organized these solutions both by scale – human, network, region – as well as by general approach – commons, markets, design and planning, and governance.

The forecast highlights a key tension- realizing the opportunity from urban data will require combinatorial local innovation: continuous, rapid, dirt-cheap cycles of prototyping and testing. But the need to spread solutions is pressing. Already, the world’s urban poor are creating many usage and service innovations enabled by the basic capabilities of mobile phones. The future won’t just be a flow of advanced technologies from North to South, but a complex web of nimble experiments and good ideas.

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