Big Data: a tool to achieve sustainable development

This briefing document prepared by Cepei, explains what is Big Data for development, what is the progress and challenges of Big Data for development in Latin America, and how is Colombia in relation to the use and production of Big Data. Likewise, it presents the contribution that the Centro de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (Cepei) is advancing on the subject.

Jaime Gallego

November 11, 2018

Main Ideas

Big Data is an evolutionary concept that describes the transformation in the management of large datasets (structured, semi-structured and unstructured), generated according to the dynamics of societies, in diagnostics, guidelines or parameters for correct decision-making in a certain time and space.

Big Data is a potential input for the extraction of correlations between key variables that explain the causes of an event, anticipate trends or results and infer potential solutions at the global, national and subnational levels.The importance of Big Data as a strategic tool for sustainable development, implies the development of new technical and institutional capacities in all government instances, that consolidate effective alternatives to the current limitations in terms of access, use of information and generation of knowledge.

✔ The mayor contribution of Big Data to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is the impact it has on decision-making processes.

Big Data in Latin America – Progress and Challenges

📊 Data scientists are scarce in developing economies, so much of the research in Big Data for Development comes from Northern institutions.

📊 With the aim of generating a more inclusive approach so that three regions of the Global South -Latin America, Asia and Africa- actively participate in a broader policy agenda on Big Data, five southern organizations have joined to implement the Big Data for Development Network (BD4D) in the Global South.

📊 One of the main elements involved in the positioning of Big Data for Development has been the regional commitments adopted by the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which mainly promotes transparency in government decisions, as well as greater citizen participation in the debate and in the decision of public affairs.

📊 One of the main difficulties of some Latin America countries in the implementation of the open data policy, is the limitation in terms of communication and articulation between their different data producing institutions, given that in some particular cases the organizational structure for the production and management of official data is not clear.

Big Data in Colombia

📊 The main challenge for the colombian government is the promotion of a data policy approach, through the positioning of technological and innovative platforms that guarantee the adequate dissemination and updating of data.

About the author

Jaime Gallego 

Environmental administrator with a postgraduate degree in environmental engineering and experience as a consultant in environmental economics, economic valuation of environmental services; He has worked as a project coordinator in the area of environmental economic evaluation for intervention projects, associated with infrastructure, mining, hydrocarbon exploitation, among others.
He has also been a consultant on climate economics, within the framework of adaptation and mitigation projects from the sectorial context.