Data-led Governance

● Data refers to distinct pieces of information, usually formatted and stored in a way that is concordant with a specific purpose.

● Data has become the forefront of many mainstream conversations about technology.

● Data-driven governance is a new approach to governance, one where data is used to drive policy

decisions, set goals, measure performance, and increase government transparency.

Importance of Data in Governance:

1] Governance: data is used in governance for the following purposes: Evidence based policy formulation; Security agencies and Police forces use big data to enhance security systems; Ministry of HRD has started SMART INDIA HACKATHON: an innovative model to discover new technologies that could solve India’s most pressing problems     

2] Disaster Management: In understanding and mitigating the risks of disasters.

3] Economy: Data is the new oil and it holds utmost importance in Industrial Revolution 4.0 

4] Health Care: Data in health care caters the following benefits: Predicting diseases, Using clinical data to improve patient care, etc. 

5] Agriculture and Food: Weather Forecasting; Irrigation & effective water management; Food Processing.

Issues with Data Governance: 

1] Considerable time lag between data collection & data use which limits their usefulness and decision making.

2] Large volumes of data are collected by different government agencies but they are not sharing it even among the departments.

3] There is always a question in terms of quality and accountability.

4] Cambridge Analytica scandal has highlighted the issue of data theft, misuse of data, lack of awareness among people.

5] Software – virus, malware, Trojan software and worm attacks being a regular issue. eg – WannaCry, Petya etc.

6] Apps – like Tiktok, Snapchat, Tumblr have been used for data mining.

7] Network – Attacks on networks can slow down an entire system. In October 2020, India announced that North Korean malware designed for data extraction had been identified in the networks of a nuclear power plant.

8] Websites – Following an attack on Indian military forces in Kashmir, Pakistani hackers targeted almost 100 Indian government websites and critical systems.

Implications of Data Breach:

1] Data Privacy: The meta-data would affect the privacy of individuals. This was one of the fears expressed in Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Aadhar case)

2] Demographic data: The breach of demographic data which can be mined by foreign companies /governments so as to use it for their narrow vested interest

3] Economic implication: In the past six years, the global average cost of a data breach has grown by 12%, totaling $3.92 million per breach in 2022.

4] Political Manipulation: Data collected by foreign governments (Ex: Russia, China) can be misused to influence political narrative and elections. Ex: 2016 US Presidential elections; Cambridge Analytica role in election, etc. 

5] Diminish Trust:  A data breach can put citizens and customer trust at risk e.g. Aadhar data breach

6] Legal implication: Data breaches may also impose legal liabilities and penalties upon the affected organization along with the loss of intellectual property. 

Constraints in Transition to Data-led Governance: 

1] There is over-reliance on data collection through surveys. These are released at a considerable lag, which diminishes their usefulness in policymaking. There is a dearth of availability of real time operational/administrative data.

2] One challenge in this regard is that considerable numbers of stakeholders are involved in enabling data collection systems that are premised on a “bottom-to-top” approach. It will be a huge challenge to get all these stakeholders on board for a streamlined data collection and reporting mechanism as envisaged for 2022-23.

3] There is a problem with the usability of data that is currently generated.

4] Large volumes of data collected by different government agencies and departments are not shared, even among the departments.

5] The data shared is often not available in machine readable format or cannot be integrated with data from other sources to help develop multi-dimensional insights.

6] Enabling adoption of the latest technology at the grassroots level would involve substantial investment along with skill development of local functionaries.

7] Furthermore, planning will be required to integrate different technologies so that ground level data can be aggregated.

8] Lastly, there is considerable lack of awareness regarding currently available data sources.

Suggestions for Data-led Governance

1] Data Gathering: Digitize the existing paper based data collection

2] Storing Data: There should be focus on real time data collection and reducing the time lag between data collection and data entry

3] Processing Data: Involve private sector in Data Analysis and use of Big Data Analytics

4] Disseminating Data: By having Dashboards

5] Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 – which aims to localize data and ensure restriction on free flow of Indian data to other nations. It put the Right to privacy at the center of decision making. 

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