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Using Big Data to Achieve the SDGs

MD Staff

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A revolution is well under way. World Bank Group (WBG) projects are using Big Data to help governments reimagine solutions and improve service delivery and work toward achievement of the SDGs. In Haiti, for example, mobile phones are being used to connect urban residents to jobs, services, and economic opportunities. In the Philippines, governments are using GPS data from taxis to reduce accidents and improve emergency services.

To highlight local efforts and discuss some of the challenges associated with Big Data, World Bank Senior Vice President Mahmoud Mohieldin hosted a high-level seminar during the WBG Spring Meetings. The session consisted of two panels. During the first, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed discussed the enormous benefits of Big Data for development—and acknowledged the risks of infringement of privacy the mining of Big Data poses. To address the issue, the United Nations has developed a guidance a note on protecting privacy and using Big Data in an ethical manner. More than 30 UN agencies use the guidance note.

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director, WBG, stressed the need for partnerships between governments and the private sector and talked about how policy makers use various sources of data to make decisions. In Sri Lanka, for example, night-light data indicated that 45 percent the country is urbanized. The finding came as a surprise to officials, who thought of country as overwhelmingly rural. The policy implications of the finding were massive, he said.

Dr. Jennifer Musisi, Executive Director, Kampala Capital City Authority, talked about the extraordinary results achieved in Kampala. A mere eight years ago, the city had no technology or data—even on basics, such as the size of the population. Since then, it has built databases in order to inform decision making, plan, and communicate with the people being served. Efforts have had remarkable effects, almost doubling revenue collection, for example.

Ms. Kai Klandorf, Executive Director, Network of Estonian Non-Profit Organizations, described efforts in Estonia, a tiny but tech-savvy country, where civil society actively uses date. She described crowd-sourced garbage pick-up and citizen involvement in bringing initiatives to the legislature. Dr. Jaana Remes, Economist and Partner, McKinsey Global Institute, noted that “half to two-thirds of the SDGs can substantially benefit from Big Data solutions. And the range at which you can improve things is 10–30 percent.” Health and water are just two areas in which the impact has already been huge.

Prof. Danielle Wood, Director, Space Enabled Research Group, Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talked about the importance of data from space—to air quality, forestry management, disaster response, and other areas. She stressed the need to bring technical experts together with people who know the local context and to support entrepreneurs in developing local solutions.

In closing the session, Mr. Hartwig Schafer, VP of Global Themes, WBG, noted that each of the examples “is a testament to how Big Data will help us achieve them.” He also recognized the teams that work on Big Data as the unsung heroes of development (as their work underlies many of the Bank’s most important projects) and identified two areas for improvement. The first is the need for the donor community to break down silos and be more deliberative about how they share ideas. The second is the need for partnerships with the private sector, which controls most of the data needed for development. “This is a partnership that we should harness, for the benefit of the people of the globe.”

Mr. Shaolin Yang, Managing Director, WBG, opened the second panel. He observed that many governments still do not have access to adequate data on their populations and that data are particularly thin on the poorest and most marginalized people—the very people governments needs to focus on to meet many of the SDGs.

Mr. Mohieldin moderated the second panel. It consisted of ministers from Egypt and Colombia and the vice-president of the European Investment Bank.

Egypt’s new constitution gives citizens the right to access to information, according to H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation. Egypt’s cabinet has finalized a cyber-crime law and is working on efforts to increase data protection. Colombia just approved a White Paper on Big Data, according to Luis Fernando Mejia, Director, National Department of Planning, Colombia.

Like other countries and institutions, it is trying to achieve the delicate balance between guaranteeing access and protecting privacy (its White Paper is available on the Bank’s Open Data site). Mexico is using Big Data to improve its massive conditional cash programs, according to Paulina Terrazas, Chief of Special Projects for the President of Mexico. They are sending SMS reminders to pregnant women, for example. The European Investment Bank is spending billions of euros on ICT infrastructure and also financing individual projects, according to Vice President Ambroise Fayolle.

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Artificial Intelligence: Everyday Everywhere

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May 17 marks the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with the theme of enabling the positive use of ‘Artificial Intelligence for All’.

The term artificial intelligence (AI) may conjure up science fiction stories or robots. However, you may be surprised if you find out that it is present in your everyday life.

Video games, online customer support, smart home appliances, promotional emails, as well as personalized and contextual digital advertising are some examples of AI.

In Iran, AI started to be taught as a university course 16 years ago. Iran is applying AI in mitigating traffic density, offering financial services and for military purposes.

Like all other parts of the world, Iran is developing AI as a necessary part of up-to-date technology and modern life.

Wherever you live, you are surrounded by AI whether you notice or not.

The smartphone in your hand, your bank credit card in your purse, and even appliances you use every day in your home, they are AI-based technology in your daily life. AI has a great impact on your life and without it, your life would be very different.

Like any other new types of technology, AI has positive and negative effects on our life and like other aspects of life, our awareness is the only way to benefit from facilities, which make our life easier if they are used in right way.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 

According to UN, the purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.

May 17 marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union.

In recent years there has been significant progress in AI technology, made possible by tremendous advances in contributing fields, such as big data, machine learning, computing power, storage capacity and cloud computing, among others.

AI-based technologies are already emerging as a key component of proactive tools and applications being used to help people lead better lives by improving healthcare, education, finance, agriculture, transportation, and a wide range of other services.

The 2018 theme will focus on the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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Use blockchain model to cut small firms’ costs and empower citizens

MD Staff

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Applying the “blockchain” model to areas like energy use, supply chains and governance would cut costs for firms and empower citizens, said the Industry Committee.

Blockchain transactions are recorded by multiple users, rather than by paid – and often costly – intermediaries. The model is currently best known for underpinning the functioning of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin.

The committee approved on Wednesday recommendations on how to apply the blockchain model elsewhere, so as to cut intermediation costs for small firms, empower citizens and enable the EU to become a global leader in this field.

It is not all about Bitcoin

Citizens could use blockchains to gain full control of their own data and decide what to share, and small firms and innovative start-ups could use them to cut intermediation costs and ensure that transactions are executed efficiently, the approved text says.

MEPs advocate applying the blockchain model to areas such as energy consumption, health care, supply chains, transport, finance and the creative industries.

For example, the model could help to:

  • monitor the origin of goods, offering greater certainty that, e.g., diamonds are ethically sourced, clothes are not made in sweatshops and a bottle of champagne comes from Champagne,
  • “democratize” the energy market, by enabling households that produce energy to exchange and consume it without the need to pay an intermediary agency, and
  • create records such as land registries, birth certificates and business licences with less dependence upon lawyers, notaries and government officials.

Getting blockchain rules right

Industry Committee MEPs call on the EU Commission to propose a regulatory approach designed to promote different uses of blockchains and other Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) that is innovation-friendly and technology neutral.

To ensure the sector is competitive, MEPs also ask for the post-2020 EU long-term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework – MFF, currently under negotiation) to include funding for blockchain-based research and projects.

Background

Blockchain-based transactions create fast, cheap and secure public records and can be also used for many non-financial tasks, such as casting votes in elections or proving that a document existed at a specific time. Blockchains are particularly well suited to situations where it is necessary to know ownership histories.

They also present opportunities in all kinds of public services such as health and welfare payments and, at the frontier of blockchain development, are self-executing contracts paving the way for companies that run themselves without human intervention.

Blockchain – How does it work? 

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The Cyber Harassment of Women in Pakistan

Venita Christopher

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Technology has gained remarkable success in the global world, today everyone have an access to the modern technology and are addicted to its use especially the social media websites like face book, twitter, Imo, Skype, hangouts and too many other websites like this have caught too many people in its web that not only young generation but adults are also trapped in its spindle.  Both men and women are not safe of Cyber harassment today but women are the more prominent victims of being exploited sexually and mentally. Invasion of privacy, extortion, cyber bully and blackmailing are at the top rank for spoiling women lives.

According to the report of Digital Rights Foundation 40 percent of the women faces different forms of online harassment on internet. These social websites are useful on one way but on the other hand there are too many vulnerable effects of these websites. Cyber world has excelled in its tricks today and there are many ways either to secure or ruin human lives in seconds through cyber world. Keeping a blind eye and trust on known or unknown people a lot of lives in Pakistan has been lost due to their ignorance, innocence and lack of awareness about using social websites.

According to the study of Online Violence 72 percent of women in Pakistan are unaware of the Cyber Laws and Cyber Hygiene. From the last few years researches have shown that women in Pakistan are facing insecurity and threat to their lives because of these social and dating websites. Women are being cyber bullied, harassed, blackmail and tortured online on these websites which has spread a frightening roars in the world. Today the main concern is why women are not secure either online or offline? Why there is no any way developed yet to stop this horrifying trend in Pakistan and to secure the lives of women in future?

We all have addiction of using social websites, no doubt they are useful but on the other hand lack of awareness and tricks of cyber world have led us to an insecure world that we don’t find a way to escape from the trap. Despite of the Cyber bill passed by Pakistan in 2015 this vulnerable problem has not been stopped yet and the victims are increasing day by day. In our patriarchal society women are being considered as socially, morally, spiritually and physically weak living beings created by God and our society treat them in the same way. The thinking of society have made too many women psychologically weak that they keep their mouths closed after being raped, bullied, harassed and blackmailed online or offline. The conservative thinking of our societies that women are the respect of  the family and they have to close their mouths or keep the thing as secret  if any horrifying thing happened to them because if they speak out they may disrespect their families status in societies.

The government of Pakistan passed  Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act  last year that only worked a bit but till now no act or bill have been passed yet to stop online violence against women at bigger level. The lack of awareness and education is one of the biggest concerns about the deaths of women who were sexually exploited online. Few powerful women of our society if ever took a step to get themselves help and caught the hidden culprit behind computer , our families and police investigators added fuel to fire and cause psychological fear in them despite of helping them. The investigators both male and females ask such an abusive and shameless questions to females that it hit the nerves of victims and they left the case in between instead of fighting for their rights. The question arise here that why the authorities are sometimes quiet on this issue from too many years? What is the purpose of passing cyber bill when there is no implementation of it practically all across the country? Why male police officers are being used for investigation of women who are being harassed online? These are all the reasons that women are facing insecurity in Pakistan and in other Asian countries not only offline but online as well because not proper measures ,rules ,laws, bills and acts has been passed yet to stop cyber stalking, trolling and extortion of women.

Recommendations to Check Cyber Crimes:

There should be female cyber experts in Pakistan who would only deal with the issues of women being exploited online because victims sometimes feel hesitation in showing or revealing personal data or pictures to male cyber experts.

There should be a separate department of cyber experts who would only deal with these issues personally despite of involving whole family in case and women should be given contacts of those experts so whenever they would face problem or are being scam they would immediately seek help to those experts.

Women should go straight forward to these types of departments and meet with experts without any hesitation. Moreover there should be one female police investigator all time available in cyber section for investigation of women cases so they would not feel ashamed or disrespect rather than going to police stations.

It is impossible to stop cyber threats in today’s world but awareness ,campaigns ,seminars conducted by cyber experts and surveys of women NGO’s and organizations in Pakistan can somehow  play a decisive role in saving  the lives of women.

There should be male and female counselors available in cyber departments for the counseling of harassed women who are being victimize and mentally effected and had fear to express truth or reality  in order to seek help and to caught the culprit behind computer.

A software should be developed and would be provided to all women either educated or uneducated  in their cell phones, laptops and computes that will detect any harmful act done to their devices or the social sites used to that devices .

Proper seminars should be conducted regularly in remote areas by women organizations and NGO, s where women are being taught the use and awareness of these social sites and those ways to protect their lives online.

Government should introduce a subject of cyber hygiene for safe use of social websites for all the students in every education institute from junior classes.

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