For policy change in India, it really may take a village

Researchers at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (HCPDS) have been awarded a 2.2 million dollar grant by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor of population health and geography and HCPDS faculty member S (Subu) V Subramanian, PhD, and HCPDS research associate Rockli Kim, ScD, are principal investigators (PIs) on the three-year project that aims to provide public policy makers in India with more precise data on their constituents. Currently, public policy decisions in India are based on data that is collected and reported at broader levels (e.g., districts or states), yet recent research has shown there to be significant variation in key indicators of population health in India between smaller zones, such as villages. In addition, district administrative areas do not typically align with the geopolitical units represented by elected politicians, leaving political representatives in the dark about the particular needs of their constituents. Delivering this targeted data to the public domain would empower constituents to demand greater accountability from their representatives.

By leveraging novel geospatial and statistical methodologies, the researchers will collate, analyze, and share population health data collected at these micro levels in order to better inform elected representatives (e.g., micro and macro electoral/political areas), academics, and citizen and policy advocacy groups. The project will feature the development of web-based intelligent public data and analytics platform for data storage and dissemination.