Macaulay Honors College Student Ranks the Most and Least Wired Countries in the World

Students at Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York analyzed big data in a range of topics, including a global comparison of access to digital communications that showed which countries were the most and least wired nations in the world, crunching the numbers of the 207 nations identified by the UN. Working in collaboration with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, Macaulay students presented projects on various global issues of humanitarian concern. Their findings were part of the Introduction to Data Science/Visualization course designed to teach students how to use big data to solve real-world problems.

All projects took their data from the UN Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX), a new open platform for sharing humanitarian data. The goal of the project from student Brian Wang was to create an index that would quantify and score the electronic communication capabilities of countries around the world. The index was developed based on a number of datasets provided by the UN, including access to internet and mobile cellular subscriptions. Wang found that the highest-scoring countries were all developed nations, with Luxemburg ranked number 1, and the U.S ranked number 25. The lowest scoring countries were developing nations, with North Korea and Burundi ranked at the bottom, numbers 206 and 207, respectively.

“I felt that I walked away from the course with a solid, well-rounded foundation in data science and a new appreciation for the effort that data scientists put into their work in order to present their information accurately and engagingly,” said Wang. “If I’m able to continue this project in the future, I’d like to explore the relationship between the index that I developed and factors of a country, such as GDP and literacy rate.”

“Macaulay students demonstrated exceptional creativity and thoughtfulness in their analysis and presentation of data from the UN OCHA,” said Russell Chun, a CUNY Journalism School professor who taught the course. “Data and visual literacy are not just valuable, but essential, and the more we can teach these skills, the more informed and engaged we can expect our citizenry to be.”

Among other projects students  presented was a comparison of life expectancy and educational attainment by country and region; and the change in the global gender gap index from 2006 to 2013 for multiple countries. The course and projects were made possible through a generous gift from Norton Garfinkle, founder of Princeton SciTech, and will support teaching students how to mine the trove of big data worldwide to illuminate trends, make predictions, and solve issues that confront society locally and globally.

The students findings have been posted online.

About Macaulay Honors College

Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York offers exceptional students a uniquely personalized education with access to the vast resources of the nation’s largest urban university and the largest city, New York City. Selected for their top high school records and leadership potential, Macaulay students receive a full tuition scholarship, a laptop and technology support, and an Opportunities Fund to pursue global learning, research and service opportunities. Macaulay students enroll in one of eight CUNY senior colleges: Baruch, Brooklyn, City, Hunter, John Jay, Lehman, and Queens Colleges and the College of Staten Island. For more information, see

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