Everything We Do Leaves A Digital Footprint.
(Read the passage given below)
Everything we do leaves a digital footprint. Big data has emerged as a buzzword in recent years. Broadly, it means a large amount of information that is generated as trails or by-products of online and offline activities — what we purchase using credit cards, where we travel via GPS, what we ‘like’ on Facebook or retweet on Twitter, and so on. Today, the Data as a Service (DaaS) movement is gaining momentum, spurring one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
A somewhat nebulous term, DaaS refers to the myriad functions that technology serves. Clearly, big data holds vast potential to favourably impact the global socio-economic environment. But is it being used as a signalling device for effective policy changes?
Technology as a Catalyst to Growth
In the last decade, technology has spawned a new wave of economic development by creating new avenues for employment, amplifying economies of scale and reducing costs of production. Consequently, several platforms have emerged to counter growth challenges. For instance, Brazil and Dubai routinely face heavy road traffic. To solve this problem, Uber designed UberCopters and UberChoppers as an alternative to roads. Networks of aerial routes for quotidian air travel are now being rolled out in other countries as well. Agriculture is also being revolutionised by technology.
Several European countries utilise Cloud Computing and Telematics to assist farmers at every stage of the value chain, from crop growing (like prescription application that boosts yield) to trade (like digital sale systems eliminating middlemen). This helps farmers to hedge against uncertain variables such as rainfall and soil fertility by smoothing the transaction process. In the realm of financial services, net banking has significantly shrunk costs and time, while also encouraging financial inclusion.
From Institutionalisation to Individualisation
The process of using data to augment standards of living involves a shift from the aggregate to the particular, i.e. a more personalised approach. Big data, combined with Behavioural Science, has given rise to a discipline called Psychometrics, which uses people’s digital traces to determine various aspects of their lives. In 2012, Michal Kosinski, one the forerunners of the field, demonstrated that a Facebook user’s skin colour, gender, income group, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation could be determined with 85+% accuracy from a dataset of around 70 ‘likes’. As the number of likes increases, the more nuances they disclose about a person, like the kind of car they drive, the magazines they read, and the chocolate bar they like best.
Ultimately, it is these personality traits that determine behaviour. Hence the application of psychometrics to communications is changing the landscape of consumer retail, business, education, and even politics across the globe. In his Concordia Summit presentation, Alexander Nix, CEO of big data company Cambridge Analytica, stated the absurdity of segmenting audiences based on demographics or geographics. Why should all women or all old people or all rich people receive the same message simply because of their gender or demographics or income status?
Where Does India Stand?
India is the second-largest Internet market in the world, with 331 million Internet users. NASSCOM predicts that India’s big data market will be a $16-billion industry by 2025, with a 32% share of the global market and a CAGR of 26%. A simple search — ‘Big Data in India’ — in Google’s news search bar reveals that big data can make Indian cities a better place to live in, increase job opportunities, help track fraud, and influence politics. We have a vast amount of data from all layers of the societal pyramid, but a lot of it is sitting dormant due to ignorance and lack of infrastructure.
To penetrate this problem, JAM — Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile (Bank Account, Aadhaar Number, Smartphone) — is set to replace Bijlee, Sadak, Paani (Electricity, Transport, Sanitation) and Roti, Kapdaa, Makaan (Food, Clothing, Shelter) as the trinity leading India’s future growth.
With more players entering the market, data prices are recurrently dropping, and smartphones today cost a third of what they did a few years ago. If an individual possesses all three components of JAM, the advantages are multi-fold — they can procure loans via electronic banking, access telemedicine, make online purchases for items which may otherwise be difficult to obtain, etc. Moreover, the data collected from these activities can be ranslated into policy measures that will improve consumers’ lives.
(SOURCE: THE HINDU Published on Saturday, April 22, 2017)