Big Data | Emerging Trends | SDG10
May 17, 2017

Big Data for Social Good: Interview with GSMA’s Jade Nester

By Jade Nester

17 May is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) with the theme “Big Data for Big Impact.” ITU and our members are exploring how Big Data can help solve the world’s biggest challenges.

This year, WTISD explores the theme Big Data for Big Impact. ITU News had the opportunity to interview a Big Data expert, Jade Nester, who is the Senior Manager of Privacy and Data Protection at GSMA to talk about the work they are doing in the area of development, privacy and security of Big Data. Here’s what she had to say about Big Data and Social Good:

In development, what areas do you see Big Data making the biggest impacts?

In the area of development, big data allows researchers to know more about habits, behaviours, health and financial security. This data can be used to design development programmes, and to understand the appropriateness and effectiveness of existing development initiatives.

Big data can also supplement traditional sources of statistical data, potentially improving efficiency and enabling better outcomes.

One area where we see significant promise is in the use of big data to predict, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from major crises like natural disasters, conflicts, or pandemics.

This application of big data analytics will have global benefits.

Can you give some examples of innovative Big Data projects using data generated by mobile phone networks?

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, GSMA launched a “Big Data for Social Good” initiative, which will leverage mobile operators’ big data capabilities to address humanitarian crises, including epidemics and natural disasters. The initiative will use big data to build an ecosystem to support timely planning and response to crises. The initiative includes 16 of the world’s leading mobile operators, which collectively account for over 2 billion connections across more than 100 countries.

The initiative’s first pilot will begin in June, and will focus on developing capabilities to monitor, alert, predict and manage the spread of diseases. In the trials, operators in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Myanmar and Thailand will employ common data feeds and algorithms to provide insights into human movement patterns. These insights will be enriched with third-party data sources such as hospital intakes, death counts and weather data, among others, to provide meaningful insights that local and international government and humanitarian agencies can use to make decisions on when, where and how to deploy resources.

The GSMA expects to publish the results of these trials at Mobile World Congress in February 2018.

As Big Data and IoT policy issues take centre stage, what is GSMA doing in the field of Big Data and policy frameworks?

Big data raises novel questions for policymakers, while also enhancing the policymaking process through the generation of new insights. While working to realise the economic and social benefits of big data analytics, the GSMA is also focused on creating an enabling policy environment.

The GSMA and its members recognise that existing privacy principles, such as the GSMA Mobile Privacy Principles, apply to big data. However, rules that restrict the legitimate use of data or metadata should be qualified and proportional to the risk of privacy harm that consumers might suffer if their data is misused. We are also exploring innovative ways to provide meaningful choice, control and transparency to consumers about what data is collected and how it is used.

Security and privacy are big issues when it comes to Big Data, can you describe some of the challenges and measures to ensure data is used ethically?

User confidence and trust are key issues related to big data and we are committed to working with stakeholders from across the mobile industry to develop a consistent approach to privacy protection and promote trust in mobile services.

In addition, big data analytics services should also consider the overall fairness and the ethical dimension of what they, or any third parties accessing the data, are proposing to do. To this end, organisations can incorporate ethical decision-making models into their business processes and governance to help foster an environment of trust.

The GSMA is also in the process of establishing a code of conduct for the Big Data for Social Good Initiative. This code of conduct will include privacy requirements, as well as ethical considerations. This will help us protect privacy, mitigate risks, and focus on beneficial outcomes.

Jade Nester
Senior Manager, Privacy and Data Protection, GSMA.
  • Was this article Helpful ?
  • yes   no
© International Telecommunication Union 1865-2017 All Rights Reserved.
ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for Information and Communication Technologies.