Big data can have a ‘big impact’ on achievement of Global Goals

Big data - extremely large sets of data which are used to analyse patterns and trends relating to human relations and interactions - can help map out global poverty from space or track humanity’s progress towards food security.

Mastering and measuring ‘big data’ – to map poverty from space or use mobile phones to track food security – could boost evidence-based decision-making at local and global levels and drive the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations telecommunications agency said today.

“The theme for 2017 is Big Data for Big Impact, which will explore the power of big data for development and examine the opportunities to convert unprecedented quantities of data into information that can drive development,” said the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication, Union Houlin Zhao, in his message on the Day.

Mr. Zhao projects that the insight brought about by more focused data analysis will enable evidence-based decision-making at national, regional and international levels and help to advance the UN 2030 Agenda and its corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is celebrated annually on 17 May to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

This year’s commemoration also provides an occasion to take a closer look at the importance of governance and regulation, says Mr. Zaho, highlighting the implications for personal privacy and security given the future exponential growth in data and connectivity.

The ITU Secretary-General further states that activities undertaken by the ITU membership will contribute towards building momentum to embrace big data on a global scale and to seize new opportunities to address development challenges.

Recently ITU announced the top-90 winning Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) initiatives from around the world competing for prestigious WSIS Prizes 2017, with over a million online votes casted for 345 nominated projects. The winners will be announced during ITU’s World Summit on the Information Society Forum in June.

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