Anjali Agrahari

Without real-time data, achieving sustainable development goal is a myth. Since this catalyst of sustainable development is necessary, it is even more necessary to understand that why real-time data is an important aspect of sustainable development?

To drive sustainable socio-economic growth & ensuring future of upcoming scenario of resources & its management, the government of 193 countries are working strategically to meet sustainable development goals (SDGs) while accepting the grave issues & seeking for a long-term vision. But what will happen if we are planning too much & know too little about the scale of the issue? Data is something that is not static. It is something that is changing every day, every minute & every second i.e. (dipsy-doodle Data (D3)).  We are planning a lot to tackle real-life challenges at a global platform, conducting summits, making policies for growth & innovation opportunities & making strategies for issues critical to human & global well-being but the question is, while all of it are we considering D3? 

First we need to understand that D3 is real-time data. Data that is available as fast as it can in real-time.  “The value of data depends on its timeliness”. Since technology changed the axis of data gathering & it’s delivering, the way of handling this pace & maintaining it timely is still something that should be strengthened. Data is the foundation of action plan. Whether it’s SDGs or any other goal, action plan is needed and for action plan, data is needed and for effective action plan, real time data is needed. Availability of real-time data can create a leader towards a drastic achievement at the heights of sustainable development. Moreover, without real-time data, any action plan or strategy is void. This is not something I am telling, this is the result of logical churning of output & required inputs. Definition of sustainable development is itself concluding that how real-time data is the irony of it.

Let’s remind the definition of sustainable development, according to Brundtland report, “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It is already mentioned here that “the needs of the present” it means without the data present in real-time we cannot work on any present situation within the concept of sustainable development & “ability of the future generation” means that without real-time data we cannot predict the ability of upcoming generation to meet their own needs because this real time data shows us the current pattern & let us calculate the probability of future pattern and this predictability weaves the base of sustainable development. Thus, we can conclude that why & how real-time data is important for SDGs.

But this is not enough! We need to go deeper to find its importance. Real time data & its use is more webbed inside than how it looks outside in its foundation arena. Although within last decade D3 is more accessible than before. There is still a gap left at minor scale which restricts us to real-time data. These minor gaps are the reason that sustainable development goals are still in papers & files but not in actuality. 

Data literacy is another factor, people at higher professions & decision-making are still lacking understanding of importance of data. Data producers & data users are yet not that coordinated enough to recognize the potential that data can offer us with the huge possibility in whatever field we want with the help of multiple data systems. For this coordination, developing countries like India needs creative ideas & techno-power to support the strategy to stand against the multifaceted challenges of sustainable development. Also, the collaboration between public & private sectors to generate new ideas & innovations for magnification of sustainable approach for development needs more hands towards real-time data. Without such collaborations government alone cannot fulfill requirements for SDG. 

Requirement of real-time data is not limited. To ensure quality framework, role of data governance is higher than expectation. As we know that data governance can be supported by private sector, academia and civil society with the help of transparency, we still don’t use the fact that real-time data can increase this transparency. This mechanism of transparency is another layer for sustainable development goals. 

Also if any nation seeking towards SDG without leaving anyone behind, detailed D3 is required across different direction of human identification, measuring scales, demographics, social status to recognize the nature of the target audience, for which national statistical system needs to strictly follow  & disaggregated data with the help of different techniques & ways. SDG not only demands explosion of commercial and open-source frameworks and tools for data visualization but time to time research & ability to enhance the possibility of adapting changes in the nature of data. Aditya Agrawal, Director Data Ecosystems Development, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data says that “Tremendous work has taken place and there is potential for much more! Every country is unique with respect to its social, cultural, economic and technical ability. The approach to attain the SDGs will be different for every country for these countries are at different stages of development. Also, the data ecosystem perspective for each country will be unique to meet these goals.”  

Real time data enhances the standard of economic & social return at all the phase of development. Not only this, real-time data itself is beneficial for creating entrepreneurship while the economy is used for achieving SDG, real-time data will indirectly drive the economy in return & will complete the economic cycle. Stakeholders of the sustainable development community can faster their results with ease with the help of real-time data.

Most basic step that SDG demands is to fill the data gap. According to Frank Schott, Vice President, Global Programs, NetHope, “When you think of large amounts of data that is out there and you start thinking about opportunities like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, there is great opportunity to enhance the international development work by measuring outcome and seeing better ways to do the kind of impacts we are hoping to achieve the SDGs.” A World Bank study states that in between 2002 & 2011, 57 countries (37% of total) had only one poverty rate estimate & more than 77 countries lack proper data to check poverty rate because of which poorest people of the country seems to be neglected. In spite, there is a lack of well-functioning civil registration systems with proper national coverage which ultimately results in serious data gap.

Publicly provided real-time data has much potential for getting used for development purpose. Although these data provided by public are mostly online & its accessibility depends a lot on the existing development of the country or area, like not everyone can use internet at all or so often. Many more things depends upon the partnership of data storage with data receivers. Counting of real-time data with accuracy is another tenderness. Methodological revolution is also necessary because of nature D3.  Giving value to the data can tell about the investments in sustainable development.

In response to growth, digital platforms are encouraging real-time data accessibility & allowing organizations to work under guidance to meet SDGs. A report published by GeSI and Accenture noted A note is given by the report of GeSI & Accenture  that “with only 15 years to meet the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals there is a need for efficiency and impact which digital solutions are uniquely positioned to deliver.”  Here is an example in current (2018) that is a digital wearable platform called Khushi Baby which is using a necklace consist of chip that stores medical health records that can be accessed through scanning. It costs only $1 & enables treatment by filling the world’ immunization gap. Using the treasure troves of information in received data, one can achieve impossibilities & can also predict what is upcoming. 

For SDGs, challenges has its own challenges! & these challenges are those development which are already adopted by our daily life & created its own huge space in industries. Thus, these challenges needs special attention by countering these deep-rooted barriers in the form of challenges before the real challenge to meet SDGs.

Data gathering & delivering within a specific time period is still something to reach. Development communities must be concern about accessibility & quality of data at the same time. Synergy between data provider & data receiver is equal in need. This will help others who are not professional decision makers to evolve the scenario for sustainable development goal. Through real-time data, each & every person can get capable of driving SDGs at smaller & larger levels by making timely & targeted decisions in reference of his own dynamic visualization.

Working individuals & organizations for SDGs necessarily need to know what information should be collected & how it should be managed for its best utilization with the proper responsibility of its effective use & security. Data users must recognize the context for SDG data ecosystem while proposing innovations in technology & methodology with the continuity of facilitating real-time data. 

Real time data ensures widespread impact of sustainable development. National statistical systems needs to invest more their resources & skills to aggregate information & data with more accuracy & as possible as in less time. It includes harnessing of technology to leverage data & create platforms for citizen generated data to touch the sky of sustainable development so that one day all nations will be called as sustainably developed countries and not developed countries. Accessing, controlling & handling D3 is the real game of sustainability. It’s time for D3 revolution! 

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