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How Big Data is Being Used to Fight Poverty

While consumers are now generating more data on a daily basis than ever before, it seems there is a never-ending push to come up with new uses for such large amounts of data. Some organizations, such as UNICEF, or the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund, are even using big data analytics to help fight the war on poverty around the globe.

In fact, UNICEF was one of the pioneers in collecting and analyzing statistics regarding poverty. Their MICS strategy, also known as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, was originally introduced by the organization all the way back in the 1990s. It has since grown to become the biggest and most comprehensive repository of statistics and digital data pertaining to child poverty.

A statement on UNICEF's website reads, in part: " UNICEF has learned through experience that problems that go unmeasured often go unsolved. We believe that consistent, credible data about children’s situations are critical to the improvement of their lives – and indispensable to realizing the rights of every child."

Perhaps even more importantly, however, is that UNICEF's archives are being utilized, by UNICEF as well as other organizations, as a means of monitoring trends and ensuring progress amongst poverty-stricken children across the world.

UNICEF's statement went on to say that their mission is: "To support advocacy and action on behalf of the world’s 2.2 billion children, providing governments with facts on which to base decisions and actions to improve children’s lives. And new ways of collecting and using data will help target investments and interventions to reach the most vulnerable children."

New and Emerging Data

Although UNICEF's current repository is a goldmine of poverty-related data, the methods for collecting and contributing data to the archive have been updated in order to take advantage of the current trends in big data as well as the newest capabilities of IT systems.

For example, many organizations are now contacting individuals on a mobile phone as opposed to a permanent landline. In many poverty-stricken regions, these residents are far more likely to have a mobile phone.

Biometric data is seeing an increasing use in the fight against poverty, too. India's Aadhaar program, for example, is working to provide identity analysis. Their efforts will ultimately help poor residents receive the benefits and help that is entitled to them.

Next-gen satellite imagery is even being used to aide in the fight against poverty. Data from these images can be used to locate the poorest areas, monitor poverty-related trends and track the success of new projects and initiatives throughout the region.

Big Data and the Fight Against Poverty

While it's easy for consumers to understand some of the most basic applications of big data and big data analytics in the 21st century, it can be difficult for some to realize how such data can have any kind of significant impact on worldwide poverty. However, given some of the recent advancements in technology, as well as improved methods for collecting, storing and applying data, the future of data analytics is certainly bright.


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