Published on Voices

Big Data for a better future

Today’s world is a far cry from just a few decades ago in terms of data. The one thing we all do where ever we are in the world today is create data. Whether is through our cellphone usage, GPS, or the bills we pay, the water we use we are all creating vast amounts of data.
In fact, most of the data we have today, was created in just the past two years. Every day, unbelievable amounts of digital information is being generated, analyzed, and stored at an incredibly fast pace. Much of this Big Data is being generated by companies, financial institutions and online intermediaries. This includes billions of data points about buyers, suppliers, weather and other items of interest to businesses and analysts. This data is only poised to grow and there is a huge potential to leverage it further by organizations such as the World Bank Group (WBG).
In the Innovation Labs unit at the WBG we recently created a Big Data Analytics program to build capabilities in big data analytics for use in WBG’s operational and strategic work. We are coordinating a set of initiatives to develop the coalitions, talent, technologies and techniques that are needed to enable and mainstream big data analytics.
Just last Fall we launched a Big Data Innovation Challenge for our staff that surfaced 130 innovative proposals, and awarded 14 teams. The initiatives ranged from the use of satellite imagery to improve poverty mapping, to the use of online data to gauge policy sentiment, to the use of big data to improve road conditions, just to name a few.
Our program is working to support the finalists and winners of the competition and to advance several other strategic initiatives. Our aim in the next few years is to accelerate big data capabilities to improve the services that the WBG provides to its clients.

The use of data and digital technologies are changing the way we live. The more we analyze and use the vast amounts of data that we have, the data only becomes stronger, richer and better. At our event on “Big Data for a Resilient Future” we will be demonstrate how our research, analytics and convening capabilities can be used for risk-resilient development. We will also want to continue the conversation on Big Data and Development on our Striking Poverty space, so stay tuned and look out for more information.


Trevor Monroe

Program Manager with the Analytics and Tools unit. Development Economics Data Group at the World Bank

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