Kshetri’s Big Data for Development


According to Megan Monroe, ‘algorithms don’t produce answers, they produce probabilities. She goes on to state that a ‘decision is simply a probability paired with a threshold.’ In order to arrive at a future in which computers are entrusted with critical decisions, we need to create a near future in which humans and computers can arrive at data-driven decisions together.

Today I will take a look at how Big Data is used to make decisions in the Development domain. One of my first blogs back in October 2015 was talking about how data science can be used for social good. In my Big Data for Informatics course a few weeks ago, I led an online group discussion about an article in this domain. I chose “The emerging role of Big Data in key development issues: Opportunities, challenges and concerns” by Nir Kshetri. This article is in the December 2014 issue of the journal Big Data & Society.

My presentation addressed the main theme’s of the article, the purpose and author’s intent in writing the article, the methodology used, main findings and two questions to continue the online conversation. In the first four weeks of this course, we looked at the societal and cultural impacts of Big Data and some of the ethical and legal questions that arise when using Big Data. We also looked at the big picture and seen some examples in the marketing and public health domains.

Four main themes arise from Kshetri’s research.  Theme 1: Data is increasingly used as a metric of human well-being.Theme 2: Big Data (BD) helps to understand the extent and nature of issues pertinent in developing countries. Theme 3: Examining the ‘digital divide’ helps us understand this dimension of BD in development. Theme 4: It’s important to understand past, current and future research of using BD in development to address issues and challenges that may arise. In the presentation I go into more detail about these and other ways Big Data is used in the development context.

You can find my presentation in its entirety from the “Portfolio” section, “Big Data Informatics – Fall 2016” link in my blog. As always I welcome your comments on the blog or any other pertinent research in this Development context.


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