Close this search box.

We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

A series of initiatives from the United Nations to enhance use of big data for driving sustainable development

A series of initiatives from the United Nations to enhance use of big data for driving sustainable development

Late last year, the United Nations introduced
several initiatives to strengthen countries’ use of big data for sustainable
development, including a data literacy platform, a proposal for a 12-point plan
on privacy and governance issues and a mapping software for monitoring progress
on the Sustainable Development Goals.

In January 2016, the 17
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, officially came into
.  Over the next fifteen years,
with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries are expected to mobilise
efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate
change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Partnership with Data-Pop
Alliance to promote data literacy

The UN System Staff College (UNSSC),
the primary provider of inter-agency training and learning for staff of the
United Nations system, together with the Data-Pop Alliance,
launched a platform offering online courses on big data in November 2017, and
will conduct face-to-face trainings in 2018.

The Data-Pop Alliance is a global coalition created by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab, and the Overseas
Development Institute (ODI) to promote the
use of big data for sustainable development through research, capacity building,
and community engagement.

Through the new learning platform, called the ‘Big Data & Sustainable
Development Open Learning Hub
,’ UNSSC and the Data-Pop Alliance are seeking
to promote data literacy within the UN and other development practitioners. A
series of eight consecutive modules are being offered over a period of 11
months. The online modules became available in November 2017 and will run until
mid-September 2018.

The first module covered issues of governance, transparency
and politics related to the use of big data, and subsequent modules will
address: climate change; citizen-generated and mobile phone data; gender
equity; public health; emergency response; data collection, gaps and
opportunities; and data storytelling and visualization. The programme can be
accessed by anyone who creates a profile on the learning hub.

UNSSC and the Data-Pop Alliance are also offering in-person
training on ‘Leveraging Big Data for Sustainable Development.’ The training will
be conducted over three to four days, and is offered in French and English at
various locations around the world.

A French-language programme is scheduled to take place in
Dakar, Senegal, from 6-8 March 2018, and an English-language programme in
Bangkok, Thailand, from 27-29 March 2018. The training programme is meant to
strengthen the skills of UN staff and development practitioners in selecting,
creating, using and interpreting data in support of the Sustainable Development
Agenda. The Hewlett Foundation is
supporting fellowships to cover the costs of the course to professionals from
public sector institutions, civil society and academia.

Proposed 12-point roadmap
for addressing privacy issues

Emmanuel Letouzé and David Sangokoya of the Data-Pop
Alliance have proposed a 12-point roadmap addressing privacy issues in big
data. In a paper titled, ‘How
to Use Big Data
,’ (roadmap available on page 19 of report) developed in
cooperation with the Vodafone
Institute for Society and Communications
, the authors recommend Putting
‘privacy by design’ into action. The paper suggests four categories of privacy
engineering solutions and design strategies for big data use:

Distributed Data Repositories (Model in which different
kinds of data are stored in separate repositories and tools are deployed from
an external or remote human query that can send queries to the correct data

Move the Algorithm to the Data (Distributed, Privacy-Maximising
Algorithms): Model in which each data repository enables remote queries to send
their query statements or algorithms to the repository.

Data Always in Encrypted State (at Rest and in Computation):
Model in which data is always in an encrypted state and new cryptographic
algorithms and approaches allow operations to be carried out without need to
decrypt first

Encode Data Usage Agreements in Legal Trust Networks: Trust
network model for large scale data sharing in an ecosystem, combining computer
network tracking user permissions for each piece of data within a specific
legal framework.

The authors recommend that all stakeholders—including companies,
privacy experts, policymakers, data scientists, data users, private sector and
ethicists—should co-create infrastructure and spaces for discussion, safe
experimentation and transparent findings.

They go on to say that new data public private partnerships must
make transparent for all data stakeholders where and how the data is shared and
what kinds of public problems will be solved through these data innovations in
order to build public trust.

Geospatial measurement
of progress on SDGs

The UN Statistics Division with the GIS software company
Esri have set
up a data hub
enabling countries to use mapping software to measure,
monitor, and report progress on the SDGs. This new hub, called the Federated
System for the SDGs, is based on Esri's ArcGIS platform and will use location
intelligence to make it easier for countries to collect, analyse, and share the
data required to monitor progress.

This was first introduced as a research project and six countries
participated in this invitation-only phase, Ireland, Mexico, the Philippines,
Qatar, South Africa, and Senegal. These countries helped define the
requirements and deployment of a web mapping and data management platform that
would eventually become the hub.

Federated system of
open SDG Data Hubs

On 30 November 2017, the Fifth High Level Forum on UN Global
Geospatial Information Management endorsed the concept of a “federated
system” of open SDG Data Hubs

Source: Research Exercise to Establish
A Federated Information
System for the SDGs
Overview and Discussion

The federated system aims to enhance the role of national
statistical offices (NSOs) in managing statistical and geospatial data through
an open data platform with software for GIS (geospatial information system) and
data analytics, as well as through the use of web-based tools for communication
and user engagement.

The system also seeks to improve data interoperability from
a wide range of sources through the National SDG Data Hubs and enable the
overlaying of multiple national and global data sets, to understand data flows,
and address inconsistencies.

The concept has been implemented through initial
conducted by the UN Statistics Division (UNStats) and Esri, which came
together to set up the previously mentioned data hub.

Featured image: Javier Carbajal/ CC BY-SA 3.0


Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.


As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.


Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit


SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.


HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 


IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and consulting services provider, helping clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,800 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently, and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity, and service. For more information, visit