UAE Press: Need to harness power of data for development

ABU DHABI, 28th October, 2018 (WAM) — With its diverse community and vast network of business and economic ties that spans the globe, coupled with its success in embracing advanced technologies and implementing them to ensure people’s wellbeing, the UAE turned out to be the perfect location for the UN World Data Forum held last week, a local daily has said.

Data plays a crucial role in every aspect of life. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has correctly highlighted the life-saving impact that data can have. Better data and forecasting could have averted many deaths from natural disasters.

In an editorial today, The Gulf Today said that data can improve lives as students can find out about job opportunities and women can learn about laws protecting them from discrimination. “Citizens can monitor how their governments are performing and hold decision-makers to account. It can strengthen trust in public institutions and unveil new opportunities.”


“Interestingly, discussions on building trust in data and statistics showed that 70 percent of this expert audience believed there is a crisis in lack of public trust in data, 35 percent felt the top cause is that statistics do not align with pre-conceived ideas, and 37 percent said that improving citizens’ data literacy was needed to tackle this challenge.”

The paper added, “These sessions have well highlighted an important area of work for the data community moving forward, particularly as it relates to data literacy for both the public at large and policymakers and the need to ensure data relevance, openness and quality.

“A touching data impact story outlined at one of the sessions serves as an important example for other data producers, civil society and journalists on how data could be used to influence policy actions.

“The session featured a story of how the results of a survey on domestic violence in Vietnam shocked government officials into enacting new legislation and awareness-raising campaigns, which have become a model across Asia.”

The paper went on to say that at a time when developing countries face a gap of US$200 million per year and over 100 countries do not have comprehensive birth and death registration data, a lack of funding and capacity are indeed serious constraints for many countries.

“Well-documented data can have a very positive impact when communicated in a way that policymakers can understand.”

“The three-day forum effectively examined how best to improve the use of statistics to achieve change towards a better future for human societies, in line with the UN’s Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” concluded the Sharjah-based daily.

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