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  • on 22.04.2014
  • at 06:00 PM
  • by evelina

Big data for development: Facts and figures 0

What is big data, and could it transform development policy? Emmanuel Letouzé takes a close look at this emerging field. In just a few years ‘big data’ have affected industries and activities from marketing and advertising to intelligence gathering and law enforcement, stirring much excitement and scepticism.

With policymaking increasingly looking like big data’s next frontier, is this phenomenon — what one expert, Andreas Weigend, is calling the ’new oil’ that needs to be refined — poised to be a blessing or a curse for human development and social progress?

Optimists are calling it a revolution that will change, mostly for the better, “how we live, think and work” (see below for a video of The Economist’s Kenneth Cukier). Some World Bank officials have even expressed the hope that “Africa’s statistical tragedy” — that is, the dearth of reliable official statistics in some of the world’s poorest places — may be partly fixed by big data. But skeptics and critics have been more circumspect, and some plainly antagonistic — referring to big data as a big ruse, a big hype, a big risk as well as, of course, ‘big brother’, in the wake of the revelations by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Continue reading on SciDev

by Emmanuel Letouzé

 

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