Did you know 1.1 people escape poverty every second? The World Poverty Clock uses data to countdown toward Global Goal #1, no poverty. 

Episode Summary

In this episode, we talk with Kris Hamel, Chief Operating Officer at World Data Lab. World Data Lab sources high-quality data and then makes the data come alive in the form of interactive tools, such as the World Poverty Clock. Here’s a podcast summary:

  • 1:45 What is the mission of World Data Lab?
  • 8:15 What is WorldPoverty.io, and why did you join World Data Lab?
  • 13:00 Why did you choose Global Goal #1?
  • 14:50 What is the current state of poverty and how can we remove it?
  • 18:30 How does the tech work?
  • 14:45 How does the business model work for World Data Lab?
  • 27:50 What are some of your biggest 90-day challenges?
  • 32:00 What do you see for the future of impact data in general?
  • 36:30 How can someone get involved?

We’ll focus on how World Data Lab addresses Global Goal #1, no poverty. At worldpoverty.io you can see a real-time estimated number of people living in extreme poverty. Listen in if you’re interested in learning more about interactive data tools and how to help eradicate poverty. 💯

Full Post

The Mission

World Data Lab is a social enterprise operating out of Austria. They are set up to do 2 things:

  1. Income: How much do people earn?
  2. Demography: Where are people likely to live?

“We view these 2 domains as the two biggest questions people will ask themselves, so governments and development organizations will be interested in this data.” 

That’s why the data is important. As World Data Lab sources high-quality data internationally, their job is to get the data peer-reviewed and then make it visual and simple to understand. Their poverty clock shows how many people are living in extreme poverty every single day. You can actually see animated little people escaping poverty, and how close we are to increase the “escape rate” from 1.1 people to 1.6 people per second, which is the rate that would have us reach Global Goal #1 by 2030: to reduce poverty from 8% to 6% of the global population.

“No one can credibly talk about trying to solve SDG #1 (no poverty) or any of the SDG’s if we don’t know the reality of the current situation or the likely future situation… we can design development interventions to try to solve what’s likely to happen. So that’s what our maps give you.”

Kris’ Story

Kris has worked in the development space for 15 years, and worked as a project economist at the World Bank Group. He did infrastructure projects like hydroelectric dams and finance projects to fund them. As he spent time around people with the influence and power over governments, Kris got interested in how best to make a difference.

He then moved to work with the UN on more grassroots initiatives to support marginalized people. Kris was able to see the difference between how to make an impact through large intermediary organizations, and how to make a difference from the bottom up.

He concluded that the real currency is through data “it’s most important give people access to data and help them use data to help them make decisions.”

Why Global Goal #1?

Here are the reasons World Data Lab chose to tackle Global Goal #1: No Poverty:

  • It is a quantified, specific goal that can be tracked
  • Tackling this goal will impact multiple other Global Goals dramatically
  • We can use data on this goal, whereas other goals are more aspirational or broad and less quantifiable.

However, we’re not quite on track to reach the goal by 2030:

  • Currently, there are 630 million people on the planet who make less than $1 per day
  • By 2030 it will still be around 415 million. That is progress, but it’s far from eradicating poverty.
  • Asia will eradicate extreme poverty as a region by 2030, which is huge. Extreme poverty is people making less than $1 per day.
  • So, extreme poverty will be isolated to Africa. The good news is, we can target very specific areas of development as organizations with an aid budget.

“The thing we’re trying to do now with the poverty clock is to get to the next level… we want to tell you which countries in which regions need the most targeted aid.” The data becomes a critical decision-making tool to address poverty where it counts.

The Tech

Kris sees the tech as a 2-step process.

  1. Advance the data and tech familiarity and usage as a 20th-century phenomenon – with visual data clocks and easy-to-read dashboards. They intend to use the data available now and design the best use cases to collect and show it.
  2. Gather data more efficiently. Move from surveys as the sole-source of information and use more reliable and granular techniques to gather information, like satellites and sensors.

Kris shares that gathering and showing data has been a political issue in the past. Governments want to allocate aid funding based on political preferences rather than where the aid was most needed. So as data collection and distribution improves, the politics become less of a block to accomplishing Global Goals.

Sustainability

When developing the poverty clock, it has been important to create a sustainable business model to keep the tech up to date and drive traffic to the website. So, the World Data Lab partners with organizations who find this data valuable.

In the next 90 days, the World Data Lab has 2 goals:

  1. To go deeper than just what survey data can provide.

“What we really want to do is go down to the village level. So our challenges are developing new methods to process satellite imagery data – teach machines how to recognize different attributes in a daylight picture.”

2. Develop games where people upload pictures and information that will crowdsource data.

“We’ve got the platform, now we can improve the credibility of the data and the visual maps we’re working with.”

What’s it going to take to get to 1.6 escape rate (people per second)?

Kris says that the biggest gamechanger for poverty actually isn’t economic growth. “Another place to look is human capital – the extent to which education can be focused on, and transitioning graduates with skills into jobs – that will have the most direct impact on poverty and infrastructure.”

To get involved:

  1. Read the methodology and send feedback.
  2. Go to the world poverty clock and drill down on the country, and check the numbers.
  3. Become an affiliate partner to represent World Data Lab locally, and help develop the next data tools. Contact them at hello@worlddata.io.

Takeaways

Chandler shares his top takeaways at the end of the show:

  1. The role of credible data in society. “It’s tough to know the real information and find legitimate numbers from credible sources about the Global Goals. I love the world data labs put the world poverty clock together and they’re going to expand to other SDGs.”
  2. As a social entrepreneur “I gotta say my favorite part about this tool is just seeing the real numbers behind these grand challenges.”
  3. Asking the right questions. As Kris mentioned, with the current solutions we have as a planet, we’re behind pace to eradicate extreme poverty off the planet by 2030. So, that means there’s a gap in the marketplace. Here are some questions to close that gap:
    1. Who are the top players?
    2. What solutions are out there?
    3. What are the top solutions that have the most leverage?
    4. What do they need to scale faster?
    5. What does your mind think about?
    6. How does the data change the way you see your business if you’re working to tackle global goal #1?

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