‘BIG DATA’ – useful in humanitarian response?

I just read this article on Big Data in the new issue of Foreign Affairs. While reading, I wondered if there is something we can learn for IT in humanitarian response. I can see some potential in getting information that is helpful for early warning or even actual response from using big data in addition to specific assessments and surveys. An example I can think of is correlating mobile payment stats (mobile money is now pretty universal in countries like Kenya and used by virtually everyone) with livelihood early warning systems, as it could give an early indication of livelihoods changing (e.g. more money being sent from the city to the countryside could indicate a worsening situation).

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