It’s an exciting time for anyone considering a career in big data.
From consumer feedback to improved service delivery, the accumulation and analysis of data is becoming an essential core of most business operations. If you’re a socially responsible data geek, there’s some more good news for you, too.
You can use your information systems powers for the good of humankind! More and more people these days (and millennials in particular) want work that aligns with their values.
Prem Gautam is one such person.
Just over a year ago, Prem moved from Nepal to Melbourne, to study his Masters of Business Information Systems at Torrens.
“I came to Australia for my tertiary education, and it has been quite challenging in terms of study. In Nepal, we only do one final exam and no ongoing assessments, unlike here. I’m learning to balance study and social relations.
During my course, I have learned how to break problems down into small pieces, create solutions for each, and then to put them back together again. This has helped me to make big and important decisions in best possible way.”
Prem came to Australia with a clear objective. He loves what he’s studying, but that’s not his only reason for enrolling.
He also wants to use his skills to help his country, and his people.
With 25% of people in Nepal living below the poverty line, there’s plenty to be done. Optimistically, however, Nepal has lately begun to experience some economic growth. This is bringing with it new technologies, improved education and broader internet access; and that’s good for development.
“Nepal is heading towards an internet revolution. I chose to study the Master of Business Information Systems because I want to help Nepal catch up with the rest of the world. I want to learn more about data processing and system development, so I can improve access to data in the future.
I also chose this course because I’m passionate about simple and practical design. I like analysing and processing data, to develop better systems.”
If you’re like Prem, and you want to use your data skills to make the world a better place, you may be wondering what your career could look like.
Here are three of the many different ways big data is being used to make the world a better place
Edna Bacquiano is a coconut farmer in the Philippines. In September 2017, she received a text message from FarmerLink warning her of an outbreak of a dangerous pest. This outbreak resulted in the destruction of over 600,000 trees. The text message Edna received allowed her to tackle the pests in enough time to save her livelihood.
FarmerLink is a database developed by the Grameen Foundation that amalgamates satellite weather data, geo-data, agronomic expertise and financial data to provide essential information to farmers. The service provides early warnings of disaster, like the one Edna received. It also uses data to develop and distribute management plans that help farmers to face climate change, and improve their practices.
The United Nations Global Pulse
Global Pulse is a network of labs co-funded by the UN, where research on Big Data for Development is conceived and coordinated. Its mission is to: “accelerate the discovery, development and scaled adoption of big data innovation for sustainable development and humanitarian action.”
The labs are run in partnership with local government and non-governmental organisations. Some current projects include:
- Accessing Spatial Data To Study Biodiversity And Devise Protection Strategies In Zimbabwe
- Measuring Poverty With Machine Roof Counting
- Using Mobile Phone Data And Airtime Credit Purchases To Estimate Food Security
The International Aid Transparency Initiative
The International Aid Transparency Initiative pulls together data from over 900 different humanitarian aid and development organisations. IATI collates this data together and uses it to present a clear, open view of aid effectiveness.
This makes it easier for governments and aid organisations to plan, track and compare the progress and outcomes of different projects and activities. IATI data is ‘open data’, so it can be used by anyone for any purpose.
The future is looking bright for big data superheroes!
Prem is excited to develop and grow his career when he graduates at the end of the year. Eventually, he hopes to pass the knowledge he is learning at Torrens on to young people in Nepal.
“I dream being a positive influence to young people. I want to spread this lesson that I have found to be so valuable in my work and life:
All data becomes wisdom. Every complex problem is just a number of simple problems in its data stage. If you break it up and deal with each problem, one at a time, you can find a solution.”