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Using Data to Solve World Challenges

Jared Ragland, Senior Director, Policy — APAC, BSA | The Software Alliance | March 7, 2017
Consumers, businesses, and law enforcement all need greater clarity regarding the rules to play by when it comes to gathering, storing, sharing, and using data in today's data-driven world.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Today, many devices have been made smart with software, and generate new data continuously. For example, of the nearly four trillion photographs taken since the invention of photography, a whopping 1 trillion were taken just last year. In April of last year, Facebook announced that more than 4 billion videos were being played every day on their social platform; this number skyrocketed to 8 billion per day before the end of 2015, doubling in just a few months.

Even your smart phone has more computing power than the computers used by NASA when it first sent astronauts to the moon in 1969. There's a good chance you may be reading this article on that phone, as more and more people around the world are using phones to access data. The number of smart phone users around the world doubled from 1 billion in 2012 to 2 billion in 2015; analysts expect that number to double again by 2020.

Businesses understand the importance of leveraging their massive amounts data to help inform decisions, as well. In a recent survey of decision makers across multiple industries, 70 percent of respondents said that their organisation's ability to get value from big data was critical to their future success.

Data has the potential to solve some of the world's biggest, most complex problems, for businesses and individuals alike. We are only beginning to harness its true power. Living during this time of data breakthroughs is a privilege, but one which carries tremendous responsibility. One of our biggest challenges is creating a global public policy environment in which the full promise of data can be realized.

Before addressing the policy barriers that could limit the benefits of the data revolution, first consider how data is changing life as we know it. Whether improving your morning commute or saving lives, people are using data to solve real-world challenges around the globe.

Data Is Transforming Our Lives Today

Today's data revolution is often invisible - it's transforming the world in ways many of us don't realize or see.

In healthcare, data is transforming preventive medicine and changing the way doctors treat their patients. For example, by combining real-time data with patients' medical histories, a newly developed algorithm can help doctors predict cardiac arrest a crucial four hours in advance, saving countless lives. Canadian researchers have used advanced data analytics to discover that prematurely born infants with unusually stable vital signs correlated with serious fevers the next day, enabling doctors to take early action. And moving from 2D to 3D imagery for mammography has meant better data that's improving breast cancer detection rates.


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