Big Data’s Role in International Development, Poverty Reduction, and Disease Control

The World Economic Forum has just released a report on the impact of Big Data in international development.

The amount of data in the world is exploding – large portion of this comes from the interactions over mobile devices being used by people in the developing world – people whose needs and habits have been poorly understood until now. Researchers and policymakers are beginning to realize the potential for channeling these torrents of data into actionable information that can be used to identify needs & provide services for the benefit of low-income populations.

According to a study by the organization, online and mobile financial transactions, social medial traffic, and GPS coordinates generate more than 2.5 Petabytes per day, and the growth is expected to exceed 100% annually through 2015.

By analyzing flows of information from mobile phones, GPS devices, and computers, the World Economic Forum believes strongly that these Big Data flows will make huge contributions to world wide development.  The WEF believes this information can analyzed and used to identity needs, provide services, and both predict and prevent crises for the benefit of the word’s populations, particularly those in less-developed countries.

Global Pulse is a United Nations initiative that joins the public, private, development, and academic sectors for using the data for policies and actions. Its director Robert Kirpatrick says the data collected will be used  to reduce the time lag between the start of a trend and when governments and other authorities are able to respond.

Another cited area where Big Data collection is showing promise is in the area of public health. The San Francisco based Global Viral Forecasting Initiative gathers information from the Internet to identify locations, sources, and drivers of local outbreaks before they become major epidemics.

Download the report.

Resource Links: