Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The World Needs Big Data

On World Malaria Day in 2016, the University of Pretoria Centre for Sustainable Malaria Control in South Africa released the Malaria Buddy App for smartphones, which provides information on malaria, how to prevent getting the mosquito-borne disease, maps of malaria areas, and what to do if you think you have malaria.

A year later, the app was upgraded, enabling it to utilize real-time geographical data. Today, the Malaria Buddy App can notify users when they are entering malaria risk areas, and they can easily locate the nearest clinic that could treat the disease.

This is only one of many examples of how the smart use of data can help achieve the United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2015, the U.N. formulated 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) for the period through 2030. The goals includes eliminating poverty and hunger, providing good health and education for all, and equal treatment regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. In December 2018, management consulting firm McKinsey published the report "Notes from the AI frontier: Applying AI for Social Good," which offers many more examples of how data and artificial intelligence (AI) can help accomplish the SDGs.

The example of the Malaria Buddy App was offered up by Stephanie Burton, vice principal and professor at the University of Pretoria, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., during the session 'The Digital Agenda: Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals'.

Read the full article on the website of the Communications of the ACM.