As we look back at the different types of global revolutions that have occurred: agrarian, industrial and digital revolutions, it is evident that they brought about significant changes that made life better in several aspects. The most recent revolution taking place is the data revolution that could not be possible without the digital revolution. The UN Data Revolution Group states that most people are in broad agreement that the ‘data revolution’ refers to the transformative actions needed to respond to the demands of a complex development agenda, improvements in how data is produced and used; closing data gaps to prevent discrimination; building capacity and data literacy in “small data” and big data analytics; modernizing systems of data collection; liberating data to promote transparency and accountability; and developing new targets and indicators.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a perfect platform for the data revolution to take place. It is agreeable that without sufficient and reliable data, the achievement of the SDGs cannot be fully or accurately measured. This means that there have to be numerous data innovations besides the traditional data practices to ensure capturing of all data required, big data and small data all together. There is need to come up with ways of ensuring everyone is counted, so as to fully realize the actual picture of the current situation at hand and the potential solutions to problems or shortcomings in communities, whether local, subnational, national, regional or global.
For data revolution to be a success, everyone has to be a part of it. This means that ensuring that everyone understands the need for collection of data and its use thereafter; how it can be used to bring about development; how it can be used for campaigning for resources; how it can be used by individuals, at personal or leadership levels, to make informed decisions. Capacity building of all stakeholders will have to be a key component of the data revolution. This will guarantee that no one is left behind; from the political leaders to the administrative leaders, the policy makers to the local citizens, who will all be a part of the revolution.
There will be need for cross-sector partnerships in this. This will ensure that there are experts to advise on what kind of data is required to make important decisions, on what are the best methods of data collection for different types of data sets, on how to make informed decisions through data, on how to involve the local communities in the data revolution among others. There will need to be frameworks in place to ensure that quality and reliable data is collected, so that the actual impact of data revolution is evident.
Data revolution will bring about a generation that refuses to make mediocre decisions through allegations and propaganda. It will bring about a generation that insisted on use of facts and figures, which led to a change in the kind of decisions that were made. Through this, there will be significant change in the world, with underdeveloped and marginalized communities rising up from poverty, sickness, illiteracy, discrimination, among other ill fates, through data.
We admit it will not just happen overnight. It will take a while before full achievement just as the previous revolutions before us; the agricultural or Neolithic revolution took around 8000 years, industrial revolution took between 60 and 80 years, and the digital revolution which is still ongoing in many parts of the world since the late 1950s which brought about the information age. But one step at a time and we shall achieve significant change in use of data for decision making.
At Considr, we are champions of the data revolution. We believe that with evidence-based decision making, there will come about developments for all. We believe in counting everyone and ensuring all are involved in the processes of data. We believe that with rise of technology and data innovations, we can achieve a data revolution in our generation.