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A Clever Strategy to Distribute Covid Aid | Wired

News | Dec 20 2020
A satellite image of Lome, Togo’s capital.PHOTOGRAPH: UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/ALAMY

Wired overviews Togo’s nation-wide social protection program(Novissi), which was designed in collaboration with Faculty Co-Director Josh Blumenstock. In comparison with many wealthier countries, Togo’s aid delivery used satellite data and machine learning algorithms to target the nations most vulnerable residents:

“Government officials contacted Joshua Blumenstock, codirector of University of UC Berkeley’s Center for Effective Global Action, who’d been researching how big data can fill information gaps facing countries like Togo. His lab had shown that phone records could predict individual wealth in Rwanda about as well as in-person surveys, and that satellite images could track areas of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

Blumenstock offered to adapt his technology to help and enlisted a team that came to include Berkeley grad students, two faculty members from Northwestern, and the nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action. He also connected Lawson with GiveDirectly, which distributes cash payments in poor countries. GiveDirectly had talked with Blumenstock before about using his work to prioritize aid and now saw a chance to put the idea into action.”

Source: A Clever Strategy to Distribute Covid Aid—With Satellite Data

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