December 27, 2019

Big Data Solutions Will Positively Impact 150 Million Lives over the Next Five Years, Says GSMA Report

"Mobile big data offers an opportunity to create widespread social impact in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals," explains a report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia on behalf of the GSMA. "Governments and development agencies are seeking new ways to improve how they design, implement and monitor projects through harnessing more accurate, timely and accessible information. The proliferation of mobile networks combined with new capabilities in leveraging 'mobile big data' (MBD) presents a generational opportunity to address this problem since MBD solutions already generate rich and timely insights that can now be harnessed to drive social impact."

Mobile Big Data Solutions for a Better Future outlines how advanced mobile network analytics and AI can be applied to drive societal impacts supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report includes an analysis of five cases where mobile big data solutions could have a significant impact. A detailed methodology describing how the potential impacts have been calculated is outlined in the full report.

Access to healthcare (SDG #11)
  • 60 million people could have better access to healthcare due to more informed infrastructure planning via mobile big data solutions that target health facility deployment planning.
Managing air pollution (SDG #13)
  • 120,000 lives could be saved across the world’s most populated cities as a result of better-informed measures to limit air pollution, resulting in lower congestion and better transport planning.
Disaster response (SDG #13)
  • More than 25,000 lives could be saved from natural disasters in major at-risk countries by 2025 as a result of mobile big data solutions being able to aid quicker evacuation from dangerous areas.
Disease prevention (SDG #3)
  • Communicable diseases could be significantly reduced from spreading by targeting locations at risk of exposure through mobile big data solutions to understand population movements. This could result in 650,000 fewer cases of tuberculosis alone in the next five years.
Financial inclusion (SDG #10)
  • 70 million more adults could take up financial services in countries with large 'unbanked' populations as a result of mobile big data solutions targeting groups to raise awareness, trust and confidence in digital financial services.

Image: GSMA

Lastly, the report notes: "Realizing the potential of MBD places a call to action upon stakeholders to adopt change at a local and global level, through the following steps:
  • Secure commitment and encourage collaboration between public organizations, civil society, NGOs, mobile network operators and stakeholders to work together and understand how MBD solutions and capabilities can help solve problems, save lives, enhance project outcomes and reduce cost. This will involve securing commitments to MBD adoption, identifying challenges and barriers to uptake for the use of MBD to create social impact, direct and indirect, as well as encouraging mobile network operators to harness their wider mobile big data efforts to specifically create MBD sets which can be leveraged appropriately for social impact.
  • Invest in and refine end to end processes in implementing organizations spanning project identification, design and execution, so that MBD solutions result in integrating insights and creating measurable impacts. This will involve identifying change initiatives in government agencies and development organizations to adopt and use MBD solutions, investing in skills and organization development and in new ways of working. Organizations will also have to learn how to measure MBD contribution to attaining the UN SDGs for 2030, and embed such measurement approaches into projects and supporting processes for project management.
  • Design MBD solutions for scale so that countries and organizations can move quickly from being stimulated by inspiring examples of social impact, to achieving widespread scale through repeatable implementation in different and localized environments and circumstances. This will involve implementing agencies and mobile network operators working with others to build sustainable solutions and scale impact.
  • Adopt privacy and ethics practices and frameworks to continue to promote responsible use of data for generating social impact in public projects.
  • Build sustainable models for solution development and scaling, so governments, development agencies, execution partners, mobile network operators and other ICT companies can work together to implement MBD solutions which are sustainable over a long period of time and are supported by business models that encourage continued investment and innovation by all parties involved.

As explained by the GSMA, I appreciate how the "report illustrates ways in which governments and development agencies are able to harness the power of mobile big data; improving the ways in which they design, implement and monitor public projects." And I concur that "[i]f these MBD solutions are adopted at scale, they can help to tackle global challenges and deliver social impact."

Do you agree that big data solutions will positively impact 150 million lives over the next five years?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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