If there is one subject that researchers, politicians, and civil society organizations have been passionate about in recent years worldwide, it is “Big Data.” Even if the craze for big data still seems somewhat moderate, some experts are already counting on them to meet current development challenges.
Suppose it has become commonplace to say that digital technologies will revolutionize the economy and society. In that case, the agrion sector presents specificities that make the challenge of appropriating these technologies even stronger than in other sectors.
More than other goods, information on manufacturing conditions and reliability in this information are essential attributes of food products. The environmental and health concerns are particularly marked for these products. They are often in the consumer’s mind intrinsically mixed with questions of sanitary and taste quality, even if they are, in fact, quite different concepts.
Social questions take other forms than for other industrial goods, but consumers’ interest in farmers’ living conditions, which is one of the initial motivations of the States-General of Food, is growing. The often rapidly perishable nature of foodstuffs accentuates the importance of consumer confidence and information. These characteristics explain why distinctive signs of quality, guaranteed by the public authorities and certified by independent bodies, incredibly early appeared. Digital answers radically new answers to all these questions.
Big Data refers to all digital traces, for example, information relating to the measure of a bank account, or that relating to purchases made online, the information we share on and via the Internet, including emails, videos, or messages that we send to each other through social media, among others.
It is also all the information collected by GPS (Global Positioning System), satellites, etc. In short, big data refers to data born from the interaction between humans and machines. This data is so produced in large quantities that machines can only process it.
As a rule, big data obey the three V principles: Volume (large quantity), Variety (these data come from various sources and come in several formats), and finally, Velocity (the speed at which these data are produced and shared).
What can big data be used for?
Big data can be used to solve many problems in several areas in Africa and globally. The new revolution in digital technologies will come from our ability to collect in the right way, analyze, and exploit this form of digital minerals that is data.
If we take the healthcare field, collecting, storing, and analyzing patient data can shorten response times predict behavior or symptoms, which will help save lives and make much more optimized services.
In agriculture, Big Data allows the farmer to make the best cultural decisions and thus optimize his yield, thanks to reliable information on the weather knowledge of the nature of the soil. In short, this makes it possible to practice intelligent farming precision farming, which considers reliable climate data. In the African context, Big Data can be an effective tool to offset the negative effects of climate change.
Still, in the agricultural sector, Big Data can allow farmers, financiers, bankers, insurers, all stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to have quality and precise information to plan in time. Financing or logistics for the distribution of agricultural products.
Let’s take the sector of risk and natural disaster management. We can use Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to model and know which areas are at high risk, which areas in case disasters will be more affected than others, etc.
This information could allow the public authorities to know, for example, what is called “Disaster Risk Financing”; that even before a flood occurs, for example, we can assess the likely risks and allocate the corresponding budget to deal with the phenomenon. We cannot prevent natural disasters, but we can better manage or adapt to them by analyzing big data as it should.
Today, there is a concern about data, especially its management. Users feel increasingly vulnerable because of the possibility of being monitored or having their data used for other purposes. Do you think this fear is justified? Should we be afraid of our data?
To a certain extent, Big Data can relate to personal information that the mobile operators can collect on an average user or the information that a bank can have on a customer, such as its activities, online banking, etc. This can be worrying to some extent. However, you should not be afraid of it.