The invisible countries of the Big Data world

For almost ten years, every year on Christmas Eve, my mum took us in the car and drove to an old house in our village. We brought carefully wrapped toys and food to a family in need. She told us that the parents are very nice people and have children who are our age. Since this was a small village, I once asked my mum, “Do I know the children?” My mum looked at me and said, “I don’t think so, you know people in need only if you look for them.”

The most interesting challenge of 2017 was how to make the most out of the data we collect: sensors, web history, view rate, likes etc. In our world, we generate a lot of the data every day … but there is another world we could easily forget. In this world there are the countries where people are in need. They don’t have internet access and hence they are invisible in the world of big data. This means it is hard to make analytics of their people’s lifestyle. And, even if I got to know a family or a person in need, I could not just transfer them money on PayPal because they don’t have a bank account. Actually, there are places in the world where personal ID cards were only introduced this year…

These people are only visible if you look for them. Luckily there are people and initiatives in the developed world that took the time and effort and look for them. Here is a site with some charities where your contribution could make a change.

For this year’s holiday season, I prepared a map for this invisible world. I visualized countries in a way where those without internet become more transparent, rendering the middle of Africa a big lake of no data. If you look at the visualization in full screen, you can hover over the countries and see the exact numbers along with a story from this year. To give some teasers:

If you feel, do something to make this map better: join me and donate for charity this year too.

Plot 15