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USAID Contribution

Five Ways to Use the NEW Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map

Oct 12, 2022
Andrew Merluzzi

Digital technology is transforming the ways in which we interact with businesses, governments, and each other. It’s also changing how we do development. And—in that context—it’s essential that we learn from our experiences and improve our work over time.

The USAID Digital Strategy’s newest resource—the Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map, or DEEM—is a tool for development practitioners to stay up-to-date on technology ecosystems and development projects that use digital technologies. DEEM is a publicly available, searchable database of nearly 1,000 digital development projects, policies, and research from around the world. It includes peer-reviewed articles, government reports, white papers, toolkits, working papers, and more. 

The database is focused on eight sectors and 12 intervention areas. Whether it’s digital finance tools in agriculture, digital literacy in global health, data privacy policy, or e-government solutions, DEEM covers every aspect of the digital ecosystem in international development. 

USAID and our partners in the development community need to strengthen the practice of capturing evidence, integrating learning, and surveying emerging trends to inform best practices. This easy-to-use tool presents an opportunity for project managers and implementers to integrate best practices into their development projects, design more effective and sustainable digital programming, and achieve better development results over the long term. 

Here are just a few of the ways you can use the DEEM:

  1. Write—or critically review—proposals for grants, contracts, and agreements. Responding to a Request for Proposals (RFP) means putting your best foot forward, and reviewing these proposals also requires knowing the latest evidence. The DEEM can be used to find up-to-date resources on a particular topic, which you can then use to strengthen your arguments or provide constructive feedback on a proposal.
  2. Design an activity. Whether you work within USAID or at another organization, the DEEM is the perfect place to go to ensure that you’re designing digital development interventions using best practices. This could include making sure that the intervention accounts for recent research or policy ideas in the country or region you’re focusing on. Using the DEEM, you can search for the most rigorous evidence by country, such as randomized-controlled trials and peer-reviewed articles.
  3. Inform an evaluation plan. We all want to know whether our projects work. And for that we need to decide on indicators, metrics, and evaluation plans for success. The DEEM can help you find evaluations of similar projects conducted elsewhere in the world, allowing you to pick up the best ideas and adapt them for your context. For example, the DEEM has a range of evaluation reports across digital finance, e-government, digital literacy, and digital inclusion intervention areas.
  4. Share resources with a colleague. We don’t conduct our work in isolation. As you’re collaborating with other partners or funders, using the “Share View” feature on the DEEM is a great way to make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to recent digital development topics and evidence.
  5. Help on-board a new employee. Have someone new on your team who needs to be brought up to speed on all things digital development? Consider having them explore resources on the topics they “need to know” to become a strong contributor to your mission. By filtering by sector or intervention area, you can point your new employee to the most essential information.

Whether you’re new to global development or have worked on these issues for years, the DEEM can be a fantastic way to incorporate research and best practices into your work. It can help you understand the digital ecosystem and design effective projects. 

Anyone who uses the DEEM also has an opportunity to share the results of their work: by submitting articles, evaluations, and other research products through a survey on the website, users can have their work incorporated into the DEEM and added to the global collection of data and best practices on digital development.

We’re excited to see how you use this new tool and incorporate it into your work. If you have suggestions, feedback, or just want to share how you’re using the tool, please use this brief survey (also linked on the website) or contact [email protected]

USAID’s Digital Strategy is a five-year Agency-wide vision for development and humanitarian assistance in the world’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. Follow @USAID_Digital and sign up for the Digital Development Newsletter to stay up to date on all things digital at USAID.

About the authors
Andrew Merluzzi

Andrew Merluzzi is an Emerging Technology Advisor with USAID's Technology Division and the Digital Research and Learning Agenda lead for the USAID Digital Strategy.