LIRNEasia was proud to partner on Sri Lanka’s first national symposium on Data for Sustainable Development. Held over two days (March 20-21), the event offered a unique platform to share LIRNEasia’s views and experience on the use of data for the SDGs, particularly in relation to our big data work. Sriganesh Lokanathan, Team Leader – Big Data research moderated the first session of the symposium, and was part of a panel discussion on day 2. I had the opportunity to showcase LIRNEasia’s experience on using Big data for SDGs at a session that was co-presented with UN Global Pulse. At the first session, Sriganesh moderated a panel that emphasized the importance of data to achieve the SDGs, and set the tone for the symposium.
While in Manila for an APCICT-UNESCAP expert group meeting (6-7 Dec 2017) to provide input into a course module on data driven smart government, I had the pleasure of also delivering a public lecture on big data for development. The lecture was held on 8 Dec 2017 and was sponsored by the Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) of the University of Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG). The two events and in particular the public lecture was a useful opportunity to interact with diverse stakeholders such as civil servants, government officials from DICT (Philippines’ apex ICT government body and regulator), and university faculty regarding the enhanced use of data in policy making. My slides from the event are HERE.
We have been engaging with local universities from the start of our big data work, not just to source researchers and collaborators, but also to broaden the horizons of students. That big data can be leveraged for public purposes is not something that they had previously thought of till we arrived on the scene. This week (18th October 2016) we continued those efforts, conducting a lecture for students at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura on our ongoing big data for development research. The slides are available HERE.
LIRNEasia in partnership with the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) convened a two-day workshop to discuss a ‘research and policy agenda on big data for sustainable development in the Global South.’ The workshop held in Madrid on the 8th and 9th of October 2016, was a side event of the International Open Data Conference 2016. The objective of the workshop was to brainstorm ways of establishing Southern-led network to tackle some of the emerging opportunities and challenges in the use of big data in developing countries. The workshop explored a variety of issues around leveraging big data to tackle sustainable development. These include issues around representativity and marginalization, researching harms (competition, privacy, surveillance), researching solutions (legislation, regulation, ethics), and addressing challenges in relation to developing research capacity, accessing data and influencing policy.
Two weeks back I was invited to give a guest lecture by the Department of Management Studies at IIT Delhi. The topic of my lecture was based on our ongoing work in using mobile network big data for development in Sri Lanka. Attended by 60+ graduate students and faculty from various departments (Management, Economics and Computer Science), the lecture garnered a large amount of interest from people trying to understand how big data can be used in various domains (both public and private). Whilst the focus of my talk was very much on development, there are still many implications and cross-over learnings for businesses and this came out more in the discussion following the lecture. The issue for many though (and which will remain for sometime) is getting access to big data rather than the tools.
Today was the first public airing of our big data for development research results. It was a small amount of time, so we focused on a limited set of issues. So we showed that anonymized data sets can easily substitute for costly traffic studies. Slides.
I recently participated in a panel on “Big data in the telecommunications industry” at the 11th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS) held in Mexico from 4-6 December 2013. Going by the feedback from the Q&A session, two aspects rose to the front: Firstly the issue of “privacy” is on everybody’s mind going by the number of questions that came from the audience. Everybody seems to have his or her own viewpoint. UN Global Pulse, whilst acknowledging there are valid concerns that must be addressed (and they have a set of privacy guidelines for their own work) clearly doesn’t want the concerns to derail the efforts to utilize telecom network big data for social good. Telefonica, as an operator, was quick to point his or her own set of privacy guidelines that inform their big data work.