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Digital innovation

Hero image description: Kelan Sing, a fisherman from Taremb community, on Vanuatu's Malekula Island, says he can now text for help while at sea. Taremb, Malekula, Vanuatu Image credit:© Tom Perry/World Bank
Kelan Sing, a fisherman from Taremb community, on Vanuatu's Malekula Island, says he can now text for help while at sea. Taremb, Malekula, Vanuatu

At ODI we aim to be ‘digital first’. Digital access is growing – more than half of people in the Global South now describe themselves as internet users. As we spend more time online across a greater range of platforms, it is vital that ODI finds new ways to reach our information-overloaded audiences – wherever they are.

Over the past year, this has meant putting digital access and innovation at the heart of how we work.

All our public events are now digital by default. We livestream to a global audience, drawing viewers to participate in real time via our website, social media and live Q&A tools. We release the recordings immediately afterwards via YouTube and the new ODI Live Events podcast, with listeners in 173 countries worldwide.

Does money matter? #ODIdeas with top economist Donald Kaberuka

We have experimented with new tools such as Facebook Live that let us quickly convene conversations on major news stories on our most-used digital platforms. Digital polling tools and policy simulation games made this year’s CAPE Conference on development effectiveness our most interactive yet. Later in the year, our Global Festival of Ideas – the first-ever ‘playable’ festival on sustainable development – brought these innovations together in our 2030 Hive Mind app. This app gave over 450 festival attendees the chance to experience the collaboration and trade-offs necessary for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

2030 Hive Mind game table at the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development at the World Conference Center (WCC) © photothek / Inga Kjer.

Our research is available in an increasingly varied range of digital formats. Digital publications that can be read on any device have generated record levels of online engagement with ODI’s work, from our Time to let go feature distilling key recommendations from a major piece of research on the humanitarian system, to Welcome to Progressia, which uses visual storytelling to explore some of the trade-offs facing policy-makers.

The Progressians

Our growing social media presence allows us to reach wider audiences with accessible, engaging content. We have responded rapidly to major world events with timely infographics and blogs. Videos help us tell the human stories at the heart of the issues we work on, as well as providing another platform through which to unpack complex development ideas. Our experts on Twitter now have a greater combined following than the institute itself.

Digital innovation does not apply only to our published research and public events; it means taking a leading role in our sector to develop new tools to make our data more transparent. Our recently launched transparency portal (currently in beta) allows users to explore ODI’s financial data: who funds us, how much, and where the money goes.

The homepage to the ODI transparency portal

Over the next year, ODI will continue to experiment with digital trends and find new ways to make our work more accessible and interactive. We will be developing our publications to be digital by default. We are making major improvements to our website and email newsletters to make it easier for people to engage with our work. And we will further explore how multimedia, podcasts, data visualisation and storytelling can bring our evidence to even wider audiences.