Open Algorithms (OPAL) Project

OPAL (for Open Algorithms) is a collaborative project being developed by a group of partners committed to leveraging the power of platforms, big data and advanced analytics for the public good in a privacy-preserving, commercially sensible, stable, scalable, and sustainable manner.

OPAL’s core will consist of an open suite of softwares and open algorithms providing access to statistical information extracted from anonymized, secured and formatted data. These algorithms, accessed by an API, will be run on OPAL servers of partner companies, behind their firewalls. The vision is to strengthen the accuracy, timeliness and reliability of key development indicators and statistics of relevance for an array of users. The project will start with APIs to access indicators such as population density, mobility, approximations of poverty indices, or literacy rate based on mobile data from telecom operators as well as a library of certified open algorithms to extract these indicators in a governed and trustworthy manner.

The OPAL Project will also engage with data providers, users and analysts at all stages of its development, build local capacities and connections, and set-up local Data Governance and Advisory Boards for oversight and support of its operations.

Two pilots will be undertaken in the form of public-private-people partnerships in Senegal with Orange Sonatel and in Colombia with Telefónica. The aim during the pilot phase is to develop a Beta platform and a suite of open algorithms, all accessible as open source. These pilots will also assess the quality of the statistical indicators that are obtained from the platform. If the first two pilots are considered successful, the project could be extended to other developing countries. 


Founding partners


Innovation: Big data, c’est données-donnant

Jeune Afrique, January 2018

OPAL: reconciling open innovation and data security

Uses and Value, November 2017

Fair, transparent and accountable algorithmic decision-making processes

Springer, 15 August 2017

The Tyranny of Data? The Bright and Dark Sides of Data-Driven Decision-Making for Social Good

Springer, 10 May 2017

Group Privacy: New Challenges of Data Technologies

Springer, 2017

Mettre le Big Data privé au service du bien public

Les Echos, 6 December 2016

Blockchain and Health IT: Algorithms, Privacy, and Data

White Paper for Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8 August 2016

Open Algorithms: a new paradigm for using private data for social good

Devex, 18 July 2016

DATa collaborative: OPAL

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data

Climate and data: A critical combination for all our futures

TMForum, 11 April 2016

The ABCDE of Big Data: Assessing Biases in Call-detail records for Development Estimates

Revised Draft prepared for presentation at the Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics 2016

OPAL: Privacy-conscientious use of mobile phone data

MIT Human Dynamics Lab