Anticipate is a tech-enhanced tool for context monitoring and early warning of conflict. Anticipate fights bias in analysis by encouraging analysts to be forward-looking and removing echo-chambers. It hosts data collection, political-economic analysis, and anticipation in one place. As such, it is a one-stop shop for the public sector to develop policy.
Anticipate was created out of the frustration we had as analysts in emerging countries. These included the difficulty to access and assess information, the reliance on open source research that makes you summarise events instead of analysing them, and the effect of analysts’ cognitive biases on the output. We spent several years developing tools and methodologies that would help us bypass our frustrations:
- We have built databases to break down information into small pieces and mitigate bias.
- We have used computers to model and analyse both qualitative and quantitative sources.
- We have designed our reports to be digestible by decision-makers: clear, lean and straight to the point.
Now, all of those methodologies have now evolved into a fully integrated app, Anticipate. The app combines data collection, analysis and early warning/anticipation in one place. It supports all processes of context monitoring from data collection to the dissemination of output.
To aid data collection, Anticipate provides the tools for networks of on-the-ground collectors to compile and categorise data. Anticipate also supports data collection from open sources through tools like the news aggregator, which scans and selects news pieces that are reliable and relevant to the project, and the indicators page, which provides real-time information on metrics tailored to needs of the project. Anticipate features a review system for the treatment of the data including translation, editing, and cross-check and contextualisation.
In order to assist analysts to develop accurate and relevant analysis, Anticipate separates noise from subtle paradigm shifts with computer-assisted tools. For example, actor mapping describes the interactions of relevant actors over a period of time. Additionally, a location map shows the geographical distribution of events on 2-D and 3-D maps.
Equipped with these tools, experts (and users) are able to position themselves on future events based on forecast questions. For example, a forecast question may ask: “will the number of violent events in Ghana increase by more than 10% according to data from ACLED within 3 months?”. To which experts will respond with probabilities according to their analysis. Anticipate gives more weight to users with a track-record of credibility. In this way Anticipate removes cognitive bias from the process.
To summarise, all steps from data collection to the dissemination are enhanced and enabled by Anticipate. Anticipate allows for context monitoring for public sector actors in fragile environments. That includes Community and Stakeholders mapping; Conflict early warning and monitoring; and Political-economic analysis, including of climate change, security sector reform (SSR) and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), banking sector reform, migration flows analysis, economic opportunities and entrepreneurship, SOE reforms.
Given its flexibility, Anticipate can be easily scaled by covering different domains, geographical regions and public sector partners. While the technology remains unchanged, it can yield tailored results to a wide range of needs by adapting the expertise that uses the platform.
Thanks to the journey that led to the creation of Anticipate, our public sector client now gets:
- A stream of cross-checked information, even in the most difficult-to-access places.
- Just-in time, straight to the point and actionable analysis.
- Focused and measurable expert opinions.
- A dynamic storage for institutional memory.
- A platform that supports and highlights the interconnectivity of information and its contextualisation.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Anticipate gathers all processes of context monitoring in one place, making a one-stop shop for public policy makers. This includes providing users with high-quality data, which saves them time and avoids selection bias. Moreover, the entire data review process happens in the app. This avoids multiple channels of communication and scattered flows of information, which can lead to data inaccuracy. Anticipate also fights bias by utilising forecast questions, to which experts respond with probabilities after using tech-enhanced tools for analysis.
Anticipate is designed in a way to showcase the interconnectivity of data. For example, a user can select an actor and explore multiple events associated with that actor and their locations, or its relationships with other actors. In this way, the user can explore many aspects of information in an easily-digestible way.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Anticipate is currently being used for context monitoring for the public sector in a foreign country in a situation of conflict. As intended, the entire process of context monitoring is carried out on the Anticipate platform, including data collectors, analysts and our public sector client.
Although Anticipate is already being implemented, there are constant improvements being put in place in the design of our innovation. These improvements are based on our observation of the usages of Anticipate or suggestions made by our public sector client, in continuous exchanges. For example, improvements can be done at the software level, such as by developing more accurate machine learning tools.
Anticipate is also currently employed or being considered by other public organisations.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Anticipate was created by a private sector company which works solely for public sector clients. Their suggestions are used to create a backlog of developments to improve our innovation, ensure that the platform could better suit the needs of its projects, and to maximise the benefits of Anticipate tools. Improvements are usually part of an iterative process, in which Anticipated is used and revised over time. Past improvements include the adaptation of language features and user interface.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The public sector benefits from Anticipate by making better policy decisions and a more efficient use of resources, as they can access accurate, relevant and unbiased context monitoring on the platform. Citizens benefit from better-tailored public policy that addresses their real current and future needs.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Despite being a new technological tool, Anticipate has experienced a high adoption rate among those involved in a public sector project on the platform. This means that many processes of context monitoring have been carried out on the platform with the aid of its tech-enhanced functionalities. We hope that the high adoption rate will translate into more accurate analysis (which can be verified by how distant were users's forecasts from the actual events) and better public policy.
Challenges and Failures
Anticipates provides the platform and structure for context monitoring but still relies on partners such as experts and data collectors to provide high-quality analysis. This challenge required intense search for good professionals. Moreover, relationship-building was necessary to align partner capabilities to Anticipate functionalities.
Anticipate, through forecasting and scoring, seeks to measure the quality of analysis. This is a significant change to the way in which users carry out analysis today and it can discourage the adoption of the platform. It is important that users be reminded that Anticipate does not seek to point out errors in analysis, but to direct users to more accurate results, benefiting their work and the quality of public policy.
Conditions for Success
- Quality of human resources: The users of Anticipate are responsible for a significant part of the data collection, analysis and forecasting. Therefore, the expertise of human resources is decisive for the quality of its outcome.
- Alignment with public sector goals: The use of Anticipate is flexible and can adapt to the needs of different projects. It’s important that the framework of a project on Anticipate is aligned with the goals of the public sector. In this way, the output will be relevant not only to public policy but also to the targeted population.
- Support: Users need to be provided with support as they onboard the platform, to ensure that they understand how to use it. This way, the chances of adoption are higher.
- Data literacy: Data is integral to the functioning of Anticipate, as it seeks to make context monitoring accurate and relevant. Therefore, the ability of users to understand, create and communicate data as meaningful information is required for good results.
The innovation has been replicated to other international actors in the public sector, in different project frameworks and/or in different geographical areas. As the structure of Anticipate is flexible, it can be used across a wide range of domains and aspects of context monitoring, as well as different geographical locations. It can also be used by different levels of the public sectors. For example, in the future, national governments could use Anticipate to assess their level of preparedness to natural disasters. While regional governments could benefit from Anticipate for assessing the attractiveness of their region for investments.
Innovators need to meet people where they are. New possibilities brought by innovation can be exciting but it is important that they address the needs of the intended beneficiaries and that they respect the rate at which they are able to adopt innovations. Therefore, listening and engaging with stakeholders is vital.
Although innovations seek to contribute to better results, they should bring value to all stakeholders involved. For that, it is important to understand how the innovation will impact and serve their work. In this way, the adoption of the innovation will be smoother and more sustainable.
- Implementation - making the innovation happen
- Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
24 January 2023