We are creating more data than ever before. The UK has an average of 3.5 devices per person, making it one of the world’s most connected countries. Globally, the number of connected devices is expected to grow from some 15 billion in 2015 to 75.4 billion by 2025.
That data sits at the heart of many of today’s most innovative technologies. It enables our choices, fuels our economy, informs our decisions and shapes our ideas. As our digital culture accelerates, the influence of data-driven technology will continue to expand.
As the world becomes ever more connected, the sheer volume, range and variety of available data will continue to grow at a substantial rate, too. The ability to analyse and use the right data, in the right way, will be key to unlocking its value. Only by treating it with the respect and rigor it deserves can society harness the power of that data as a force for good.
The opportunities for data to help society respond to long-standing and emerging challenges is limited only by our imaginations. Finding those nuggets of valuable data created all around us every day and turning them into actionable insight can be hugely beneficial and help deliver better outcomes for everyone.
Covid-19 has highlighted the fundamental importance of data and technology.
Over the last few months, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the fundamental importance of data and technology which, in some countries, have spearheaded their response to this extraordinary challenge. Combined with good judgment and expert knowledge, data gives us the raw materials to plan our actions and then judge the results.
For example, in the UK, local authorities and major charities are using data mapping tools to identify areas with the highest concentration of vulnerable groups.
Our own solution, Experian Safeguard, draws on anonymised data and analyses it to create modelled information helping charitable and non-profit organisations to quantify the households requiring support at a geographical level and target support accordingly.
The information is used to highlight groups such as those who may be living alone, self-isolating due to old age and others who may have poor, or no, internet access and are unable to access online shopping and services. The data can help food banks identify areas where there may be people who need their help.
AI can predict whether somebody has Covid-19 based on their symptoms.
Researchers at King’s College London, Massachusetts General Hospital and health science company ZOE have also developed an artificial intelligence diagnostic that can predict whether someone is likely to have Covid-19 based on their symptoms.
The AI model uses data from the Covid Symptom Study app to predict Covid-19 infection by comparing people’s symptoms and the results of traditional Covid tests. Researchers say this may provide help for populations where access to testing is limited.
But these are just the latest examples of how the effective use of data can help make a substantial difference and support the fight back against some of the world’s biggest challenges.
Data can transform and even save lives.
For many years now, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) has used data to help shape its disaster relief efforts. Through the use of satellite and drone imagery, the HOT community works together online to help rapidly generate map data in OpenStreetMap. This data is crucial to get reliable information to first responders quickly enabling them to reach the affected areas post-disaster and prioritise aid.
Data can transform and even save lives, quite literally. In the US, a predictive model is being developed to identify people who are at a higher risk of leukemia and other life-threatening diseases. A greater number of lives could be saved by ensuring people receive earlier or more intense treatment, all using sophisticated data analytics.
These examples demonstrate just a few of the many ways that we can draw on the power of data to make a positive impact in our society. This is even more significant in the current context as the world responds to one of the worst global pandemics on record. It’s in all our interests to explore the many positive uses available to us to help those most in need, using good data, in the right way.
Jonathan Westley, chief data officer, Experian