How Big Data Can Help the Poorest and Most Vulnerable Members of the Community
Thu, April 22, 2021

How Big Data Can Help the Poorest and Most Vulnerable Members of the Community

Big Data should cater to the needs of healthcare workers and the vulnerable, namely mothers and children / Photo Credit: Somkid Thongdee (via Shutterstock)


Dr. Naveen Rao of American weekly news magazine Time noted how big data and other digital innovations have the capability to change people’s lives for the better— or perhaps, the other way around. Most male farmers utilize technology to improve their livelihoods. Farmers in the poorest of communities use mobile applications to “aggregate data across farms and parse it using artificial intelligence.” 

The apps, which are often available at low cost, are useful in countries such as India, where more than half of its population is dependent on the agriculture sector. However, this technology is unavailable to community health workers, who protect their families and patients from diseases and provide health services in their community. Most of these health workers are women. They “write down by hand details about mothers and children visited and services administered.” They report the data to government recordkeepers, and they get nothing in return. 

Data should cater to the health of the poorest and vulnerable members of the community, namely mothers and children. -In remote and poor areas, big data could be transformative by “providing critical intelligence” to enable health workers to triage care and resources to the most vulnerable. Health workers are responsible for making quick decisions and recording the families who consult them. If big data is helpful to farmers, then imagine how it would make a health worker’s job more efficient and less taxing. 

Let’s say 10 mothers-to-be are visiting a health worker’s clinic, but they have time to attend to five patients. With big data, it would suggest which patient would “have the highest-risk pregnancies” and require immediate attention. When those mothers give birth, big data would also show which newborns would struggle to survive, prompting the health worker to intervene. 

Sadly, the minds behind technology and big data do not take the time to empower community health workers with data analytic tools. Since there is limited commercial opportunity, it inevitably leads to a lack of data infrastructure, information quality, talent, and investment. 

Governments and private sectors from all over the globe should see how technology is beneficial for everyone. Technology should help in reducing inequality and building a healthier world.