Connaught Global Challenge Award

Big Data – Local Impact – Healthy Lives: Building a Canadian Indigenous and African Health Informatics Research and Innovation Platform

The Big Data revolution has the potential to improve health outcomes radically for those living in remote, rural and Indigenous communities in both Canada and Africa.  Realizing this potential begins with the local adoption of innovative digital technology, and depends on the quality of local data.  Yet transformation cannot occur without local governance capabilities that ensure that the benefits of digitization accrue locally as well as remotely.

As part of a new Connaught Global Challenge Award, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Toronto and Dignitas will engage with Northern Ontario and Malawian health authorities, NGOs and others invested in transforming global health through Big Data.

We will examine and evaluate Big Data initiatives designed to address some of the world’s biggest health challenges. Our overarching goal is to study the use of local data where health improvements must happen – at local health facilities and local community programs. Our Canadian and international cross-sectoral initiative aims to take Big Data analytics to the last mile.

Challenge questions:

  • How does local data access affect a health provider’s ability to deliver quality care?
  • How is success defined by local communities, providers, and health authorities?
  • What role does analytics capacity and training play?
  • How does Big Data interact with managerial training to lead to effective policy?
  • How should local data and analysis be targeted to those who need it?
  • What effect does local data have on decision making?
  • Which digital innovations causally impact the performance of facilities and providers, patient outcomes, and individual health behaviour?
  • How can communities, health authorities and local providers influence Big Data design so that it better reflects their needs and priorities?

We will actively engage local partners in the local use of Big Data to make meaningful local impacts in both Canada and the Global South.

Spring 2018: Big Data – Local Impact – Healthy Lives Planning Workshop: To kick-off the Canadian Indigenous and African health informatics research and innovation platform, we will hold a Big Data – Local Impact – Healthy Lives planning workshop on the UofT campus. The workshop will involve faculty, students, policymakers, frontline clinical and health management staff and non-governmental public health and informatics specialists from Ontario and Malawi.


LauraDerksenLaura Derksen
Assistant Professor of Strategic Management
Department of Management
University of Toronto Mississauga

joshua-150x150Josh Berman
Director, Ideas to Impact Lab
Dignitas International

headshot_McGahan_Anita-e1340029780990-196x275Anita McGahan
Rotman Chair in Management
Professor of Strategic Management
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Please fill out the form below if you are interested in learning more or getting involved in the Big Data – Local Impact – Healthy Lives project.


victoriaConnaught Global Challenge Award