Sun, 26 Jun 2022
22.7 C
Durban

Using data to make intelligent decisions about our future

Home Uncategorised Using data to make intelligent decisions about our future

Analytics are vital for a better and safer future. The KwaZulu-Natal flood is an example of an emergency situation where data can be used in future to prevent emergency situations and assist with relief efforts.

“Data by itself is meaningless. This is where innovative technology like artificial intelligence (AI) can awaken data’s true potential. Using sophisticated algorithms, it’s possible to transform raw data into intelligence much more efficiently than in the past,” says SAS Institute I-Sah Hsieh, Principal Program Manager, Corporate Social Innovation and Brand.

“AI can help us address some of Africa’s and the world’s most pressing problems – from healthcare and education, to sustainability, energy and social development,” says  I-Sah Hsieh.

Data can be used to create insight, and insight underpins policy. Relief efforts, repair and reconstruction by civil society as well as the public and private sectors can be guided by these insights if enough data is collected and aggregated in a useful format.

DoE takes a data-driven look at learning loss in rural KZN schools

Gathering insights using a data-driven approach has helped the Department of Higher Education pinpoint the best location to build new schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Murray de Villiers, EMEA Emerging, Education Head, SAS Institute, explains: “SAS in South Africa has partnered with the Department of Higher Education to find the best placement to build new schools in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

“Using crowdsourced data we were able to measure the daily commutes of high school learners from their communities. Some learners were travelling up to 30 kilometres per day, mostly on foot. From an analytics point of view using satellite data to pinpoint new school locations was a relatively simple exercise; but it has the potential to deliver tangible life benefits for students who may potentially miss school days regularly because of the long distances they have to walk,” says de Villiers.

Engaging students in data literacy

“We need to teach the world to embrace data, through literacy programmes to create citizen data scientists. This is a virtuous circle as the use of data can support the delivery of education,” says de Villiers.

“Promoting data literacy, regardless of a person’s role or job description, will lead to data and analytics being used as critical tools in decision-making,” he says.

People begin to engage with data science and analytics when they see real-world examples of the benefits for society. Data for good is an easy way to start engaging the next generation of citizen data scientists about the importance of data literacy.

Data for good projects

“The data for good movement is generating a lot of energy and goodwill among our employees. With some analytics and creative data science we can use the power of data to improve and save lives,” says I-Sah Hsieh.

Around the world, data for good projects are helping to achieve social good. One example is protecting the Amazon rain forest from deforestation by asking citizen data scientists to click on satellite imagery where they see signs of human impact.

This activity is training artificially intelligent models to recognise signs of human impact that will ultimately accelerate research and make it more accurate. Citizen data scientists are protecting the Amazon and learning about AI at the same time.

In another example, citizen data scientist are helping organisations that dig wells to provide fresh water in some of the world’s poorest to locate wells.

The same skills we use commercially can be extended to deliver social good and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“More people need to participate to enhance the impact of data. There are some hurdles to overcome, notably cooperation among competitors and privacy concerns. Anonymising data as much as possible and preventing traceability to people participating in projects can reduce resistance to donating data to a good cause. Data for good needn’t compromise privacy,” says I-Sah Hsieh.

“The world is on the cusp of bringing together machine learning, AI, predictive analytics and optimisation to create new solutions for social problems. All that is required is some creativity and imagination to unlock the power of data for good,” says de Villiers.

Most Popular

The rollercoaster and exhilaration of being a demolition specialist

TODAY is International Women in Engineering Day. To celebrate, Jet Demolition contracts and project manager Kate Bester highlights what it's like being in close...

Financial reports won’t save local government crisis, warns town and regional planners

By Burgert Gildenhuys: Director, BC Gildenhuys & Associates IT is unclear whether South Africa has the will or guts to confront issues contributing to the...

N3 truck blockade: It’s ‘economic sabotage’, say ministers and business

ANOTHER truck blockade saw Van Reenen's Pass on the N3, the country's main domestic trade route, being closed on Thursday 16 June. This protest...

Factory of the Year competition returns as economy bounces back

FOLLOWING a challenging two years in the manufacturing sector, Kearney, a leading management consulting firm, is excited to announce the return of the Factory...