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Using Data to Solve World Challenges

Jared Ragland, Senior Director, Policy — APAC, BSA | The Software Alliance | March 7, 2017
Consumers, businesses, and law enforcement all need greater clarity regarding the rules to play by when it comes to gathering, storing, sharing, and using data in today's data-driven world.

Sectors like design and infrastructure also benefit. Data is being used in the United Arab Emirates to design the world's first building that produces more energy than it consumes. And in Stockholm, Sweden, the city installed 1,600 GPS systems in taxis to collect data on traffic flows, and then used software analysis to inform its plans to reduce congestion. The result? Traffic has been reduced by 20 percent, travel times have been cut in half, and auto emissions are down ten percent.

The impact of data is not limited to advanced economies. Perhaps the most significant results have occurred in developing countries where data is improving quality of life. One example is Kenya, where mobile data is being used to identify malaria patterns and pinpoint hotspots to guide eradication efforts. Another is India, where Internet kiosks are providing more than 4 million farmers access to crop prices, weather data, and advanced analytics, allowing them to track information from individual farms and deliver supplies to farmers based on their changing needs. Thanks to a concept known as "precision agriculture," farmers around the globe are now able to use data from seeds, satellites, sensors, and tractors to make better decisions that increase yields, decrease costs, and ultimately, feed more people.

But examples like these are only the tip of the iceberg.

The Next Wave of the Data Revolution

Steam engines, penicillin, and GPS are all advancements that led to historic shifts in human society. According to a recent World Economic Forum report, we are on the verge of the next wave of innovation that will change life as we know it.

Data about everyone and everything is exploding exponentially. In parallel, the sophistication of the problems software can address is advancing rapidly - as is the ability of software to learn and evolve itself. This presents tremendous opportunity for software-enabled advancements to continue to reshape the world.

New data-driven advancements are poised to enhance productivity, efficiency, and creativity. Connecting vision to the internet via "intelligent" eye-tracking devices, for instance, will allow us to enhance, mediate, or augment how we interact with the world around us, which holds significant promise for the disabled. The rise of 3D printing will vastly reduce production costs of daily products. The Internet of Things - with smaller, cheaper and smarter sensors in cities, homes, clothes, and accessories - will improve quality of life. Computing itself will become ubiquitous in developing countries. And everyone worldwide - including in developing nations - can have access to a supercomputer in his or her pocket, with nearly unlimited storage capacity. The potential is amazing.

But whether software and data analysis reach the full potential of these possibilities in the coming years depends, in part, on how well government and industry work together.

 

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