When a devastating cyclone ripped through India’s Odisha State in 2013, nearly 1 million people were evacuated to safety. Loss of life, while tragic, was limited to 38 – a marked difference from a similarly powerful storm 14 years earlier that caused almost 10,000 fatalities. What made the difference? The state’s Disaster Management Authority had invested in weather forecast data and disaster response measures, which contributed to saving thousands of lives.
Odisha’s early warning system illustrates how data can be a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty. Having critical data can help policymakers set priorities, target resources, and improve decision-making. For citizens, it can help deliver better services, spur economic growth and job creation, improve road safety and boost productivity for small firms.
World Development Report (WDR) 2021 - Data for Better Lives provides a comprehensive overview of the implications of the data revolution for economic development, especially poor and vulnerable people, and offers recommendations on how data can deliver social and economic value in a secure, ethical, and equitable way.
Creative use and reuse of data can help realize the full potential of data
More data is available today than ever before from information gathered in household surveys, to pixels captured by satellite images, to mobile phone records. While data has delivered progress on many fronts, much more can be done to realize its full value. With the digitization of data, combining public and private data from traditional and new sources creatively can deliver value for purposes beyond initial intent.
In Kenya, for example, repurposing private intent traffic data is helping make roads safe. A big data analytical approach, combining data from social media, cell phone data, and digitized official reports of traffic accidents in Nairobi found that 5 percent of roads account for 50 percent of road deaths in the city, informing road safety measures to save lives.