In World War II, planes would often return to their base with bullet holes. The Allies started reinforcing the areas most hit by bullets. Until one day, Abraham Wald changed that. He noted that the holes were not in critical areas and so the planes could return. If the planes were hit in critical areas, they were unlikely to make it home. Therefore, the Allies started reinforcing critical areas rather than the areas with holes.
Where there was holes was important, but where there wasn’t holes was even more important.
And so it often goes with data and datasets. What is present or available tells only part of the story. Often the data that is not present tells an even more important story. We know this to be true in aid work where data about women, girls, elderly, people living with disabilities is missing or hard to find. Too often we assume mobile and technology coverage is equal. It is not. Too often we focus on the majority so we can meet our efficiency ratios and metrics.
We need to look at what is missing, the gaps. It is likely that is where we will find the vulnerable we claim to serve and help. Yes, it is hard. Do it anyway.
H/T Model Airplane News