Data & Design Lab

Welcome to Data and Design lab. Here we blend Data science, machine learning, statistical inference with human-centric design principals to aid policymakers what they do the best – policymaking. We believe evidence-based policymaking can help policy-making easier and efficient. However, we do not think everything can be solved from data-driven knowledge. We, therefore, focus only on certain fields- energy, education, ICT, health- where there is an access to data that can be harnessed. 
 
Data science- encompasses ideas and thoughts from computational social science, machine learning, statistical learning, social science, behavioral science and many other new disciplines of physical and social sciences. As the world is embracing digital technologies, machines and humans are producing more data that may directly or indirectly give insights about our environment. Policymakers be that from public offices or from private enterprises may use these insights to shape their policies or business goals. Harnessing data efficiently thus can open up new horizons. The developed world has embraced the idea and many countries have taken initiatives to find out the best way to harness data for public good. Developing world should not wait as this may be the cause of new digital divide as data begets information and information begets efficient business and policy. 
 
Design thinking helps to make understanding of our surroundings better. The researchers believing in Design centric thinking argue that better design can help get a better result, and design flaws may cause a worse result. We believe working with data needs a marriage with Design thinking as we need to think about the consequence of our works before we delve into data-centric research. We believe design thinking, therefore, can play a vital role in public policy. 
 
With the advent of efficient hardware to store and process a large amount of data, computational mechanisms to learn patterns from large datasets and people’s interest to harness data new possibilities of Data science for social good are engendering. We harness state-of-the-art knowledge from social science, arts, physical science and behavioral science and blend them with our visions of human-centric computing to harness insights from Data. 

Research Focus

Connectivity

Education & ICT

Energy

Society & Economy

Sustainable City

Recent News

The Daily Star’s Man and Machine column has printed Dr. Zaber‘s article titled “What are the priorities of BTRC during the pandemic?“. You can read it on the epaper via this link.

(Image retrieved from The Daily Star)

For this week’s Man and Machine on The Daily Star, Dr. Zaber‘s article titled “A spectacular spectrum auction vs. a thriving telecommunications marketplace” has been published.

https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/news/spectacular-spectrum-auction-vs-thriving-telecommunications-marketplace-2067309

(Image retrieved from The Daily Star)

Bangladesh turns 50 on 26th of March 2021. To celebrate this auspicious moment, we would like to present to our policymakers, development researchers, educators, and enthusiasts a web portal that endeavors to visualize Bangladesh from traditional and nontraditional data. Along with presenting various time series, correlational, map-based visualizations of traditional data we also present ranks of districts based on their most recent standing on specific indicators. The portal gives researchers and enthusiasts a chance to build composite indicators to capture the progress of living standards by varying weights of individual indicators, create their own rankings and clusters, and finally visualize them. We also present our ongoing research on non-traditional data sources to create potential alternative indicators for electricity consumption, land use, connectivity, and pollution.

Please visit bdqol.dndlab.org

Dr. Zaber is contributing to The Daily Star’s column titled “Man and Machine”. The first article “Jumpstart with AI: What should be our first step?” has been published. You can read it online using the link below.

https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/news/man-and-machine-2039861 

(Image retrieved from The Daily Star)

Update (Feb. 7th, 2021):

The second article “Faceoff with Facebook: What have the regulators learned?” has been published. You can read it online using the link below.

https://www.thedailystar.net/opinion/news/faceoff-facebook-what-have-the-regulators-learned-2055585

Four new publications from Data and Design Lab!

First, the paper “Deep-learning coupled with novel classification method to classify the urban environment of the developing world” has been successfully presented at the second International Conference on Signal Processing and Machine Learning (SIGML) on January 23, 2021. You can accessed the paper from the AirCC site with this link.

Second, “Innovations in Teaching and Learning in Distance Mode during COVID-19 in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh” has been published in the National Conference on COVID 19: Impact, mitigation, opportunities and building resilience on January 21, 2021.

Third, “Just-in-Time Educational Aid to Deliver Instant Help for Students in Developing Countries” has been published in the journal of Recent Trends in Information Technology and its Application- HBPR publication on December 2020.

Fourth, “Understanding the responsiveness of local-level e-Governance platforms of Bangladesh” has been published in the 13th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV) on October 2020. 

Dr. Zaber will be presenting at the PTC’21 telecom conference about “The Future of Mobile: Regulatory Challenges, Competition, and Customer Needs and Demand”. See the program details here.

The online platform can be accessed using the link below.

https://www.ptc.org/ptc21/online-platform/

Dr. Moinul Zaber will be speaking in the “Spectrum Policy for Developing Digital Economy in Indonesia” webinar hosted by LPEM FEB of Universitas Indonesia. 

The webinar will be held at 9 AM on 29 December 2020 (Jakarta time). Registered users can watch it live on Zoom and will get a free e-certificate.

Dr. Judy Backhouse and Dr. Moinul Zaber has published an article “Really Smart Cities ignore smart city rankings” on UNU-EGOV site. The article focuses on IMD Smart City Index 2020 and why it is okay if your beloved city did not rank high in the index.

The article is also available on The Daily Star.

Dr. Moinul Zaber spoke about the reality and risks of AI in the ISSA European Network Webinar: Artificial intelligence for social security institutions on September 22, 2020.

UPDATE: Here’s the article to the presentation summary, posted in ISSA News on October 28, 2020.

The Daily Star has published an article “Policies without proper data are doomed to fail” by Dr. Amin Masud Ali and Dr. Moinul Zaber on July 22, 2020.

Dr. Moinul Zaber presented a keynote speech on Data and Design Lab’s recent works for energy policy at the Big Data and Power Management seminar organised by Bangladesh Energy Policy Research Council (BEPRC) on July 7, 2020. The seminar was presided over the Honorable Energy Advisor Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Honorable State Minister of Energy Nasrul Hamid and secretaries of high officials of energy ministries were present at the online seminar.

The focus of the keynote was the use of non-traditional data sources merging with traditional data sources to understand socioeconomic development and energy use of Bangladesh.

The presentation was based on our recent work on use of Nighttime lights data and household level electricity usage to understand people continously at disaggregated spatial spread.

Source: News from the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral resources, BD.

Recent Works

Sayed, M. A., & Zaber, M. I. (2020). Just-in-Time Educational Aid to Deliver Instant Help for Students in Developing Countries. Recent Trends in Information Technology and its Application, 3(3).

A well-structured inland waterways system should help Bangladesh fulfill SDG goals. In this study, we employ complex network analysis methods to analyze the river-port network of the country. We ascertain different types of ports based on their importance and placement in the connectivity network. Data regarding port location, vessel routes, and schedules were collected from governmental resources. Using the data, a connectivity network was built for further analysis. Different measures of network analysis are used to categorize the ports and the network model has been identified. These categories should help transportation planners and policymakers to better design the inland waterways network of Bangladesh.

Cheng, Q., Rahman, A. K. M., Sarker, A., Nayem, A. B. S., Paul, O., Ali, A. A., … & Zaber, M. (2020). Deep-learning coupled with novel classification method to classify the urban environment of the developing world, SIGML, 2021.

A well-structured inland waterways system should help Bangladesh fulfill SDG goals. In this study, we employ complex network analysis methods to analyze the river-port network of the country. We ascertain different types of ports based on their importance and placement in the connectivity network. Data regarding port location, vessel routes, and schedules were collected from governmental resources. Using the data, a connectivity network was built for further analysis. Different measures of network analysis are used to categorize the ports and the network model has been identified. These categories should help transportation planners and policymakers to better design the inland waterways network of Bangladesh.

F. Tabassum, H. Islam, A. A. Ali and M. Zaber, “A Complex Network Analysis of Inland Waterways Port Connectivity of Bangladesh,” in IEEE Region 10 Symposium (TENSYMP), Dhaka, 2020.

A well-structured inland waterways system should help Bangladesh fulfill SDG goals. In this study, we employ complex network analysis methods to analyze the river-port network of the country. We ascertain different types of ports based on their importance and placement in the connectivity network. Data regarding port location, vessel routes, and schedules were collected from governmental resources. Using the data, a connectivity network was built for further analysis. Different measures of network analysis are used to categorize the ports and the network model has been identified. These categories should help transportation planners and policymakers to better design the inland waterways network of Bangladesh.

M. Wahed, R. A. Rizvee, R. R. Haque, A. M. Ali, M. Zaber and A. A. Ali, “What Can Nighttime Lights Tell Us about Bangladesh?,” in IEEE Region 10 Symposium (TENSYMP), Dhaka, 2020.

Analyzing the state and growth of various socio-economic indicators is essential for effective developmental planning at a sub-national level. However, in many cases, data regarding such indicators are not publicly available and/or hard to collect. In many other cases, the available data may not be recent enough. In contrast, satellite data is both readily available and up-to-date. In recent times, various studies have been conducted to use different types of satellite data as a proxy to determine the condition of socio-economic indicators in different places around the world. In this paper, we study the efficacy of one such data source, nighttime lights (NTL), for monitoring factors related to sustainable development in the context of Bangladesh.

S. B. Rabbani, A. A. Ali and M. Zaber, “Does Electric Prepaid Meters Decrease Payment Delinquency? Evidence from Data Centric Analysis of Electricity Consumption in Dhaka, Bangladesh,” in IEEE Region 10 Symposium (TENSYMP), Dhaka, 2020.

Prepaid electricity meters are favored by power distribution companies to improve revenue collection, debt prevention and ensure customer satisfaction. In this paper, we investigate changes in bill payments pattern of customers in Dhaka, Bangladesh who had switched from post to pre-payment meters. We collected postpaid bill and prepaid recharge payment data over there years. We specifically look into payment behavior of residential household customers to understand the effect of prepaid meters on payment delinquency. Analysis of postpaid bill indicate that at least 32% households skipped paying one or more bills over a period of one year. Households consuming 100-300 KWH accounts for almost 51% of the total delinquent households. After prepaid switch, approximately 46% of all households are making prepayments every month. 52% of households who skip paying bill and 45% of households who pay bill after due date, at least once, are now recharging every month. Overall the technological intervention shows considerable reduction of retail debts and a behavioral shift towards on time payment.

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