Does data belong in the Caribbean?

#datarevolution in the caribbean

Photo Courtesy NASA: Eye on the Caribbean at night

“ Is there a #datarevolution happening in the Caribbean?”

This week we have a special post of interest, sort of removed from our usual topics. Of late there is a growing trend for use of data in agriculture particularly for developing countries. However as the Caribbean region is very different from other parts of the world how does this bode for the agri field and on the same note for other sectors in which development is needed?

The Caribbean Open Institute: a regional initiative conceptualized by a community of Caribbean stakeholders and sponsored by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) that seeks to facilitate the emergence of a Caribbean knowledge economy where the use of open data is meant to be the helm for transforming society and improving the quality of life for Caribbean societies.”

Open Data in the Caribbean has the potential to provide a powerful catalyst for enabling greater accountability and transparency; improving public sector efficiency and service delivery; and stimulating economic development through the active, participatory innovation between regional governments and caribbean civil society.

So what’s been happening?

There are a number of data projects happening here in the Caribbean such as Data.TT  and the Geospatial Data Repository (of the Caribbean landscape Conservation Initiative).

From what is understood a #datarevolution refers to utilizing data to maximize and have a greater impact on development initiatives at all levels of society. Maybe the better question would be in what way is data being utilized here in the region?

However when persons in the development space talk about a #datarevolution they are making a specific reference to the role of data and informational technology within the context of the upcoming Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) scheduled to come into play later this year.

It is understood that there is an increasing abundance of information available that could be used to drive decision making and development. It is not as though this information was not available before for example using data for disaster preparation planning; this is not something new.

But in the context of the Caribbean what does this mean? That is yet to be identified.

Getting to the point

Based on the current scenario, we understand that a #datarevolution is not happening here in the Caribbean. However we are heading in the right direction.  There has been a sharp increase in the number of mobile apps, particularly centered on capitalizing on available agricultural data.

For example the AgrineTT project has produced three apps: AgriExpense, AgriMaps and Market Watcher which uses available data in a variety of ways to the benefit of producers in terms of finance management, land management and market analysis.

Another example comes out of the Caribbean Open Institute’s project in agriculture:

In terms of other sectors data driven policy and decision making is also prevalent however it is refreshing to see that there is direct ans specific involvement of this area in the agri-sector.

There’s always a challenge or two

Given that there are chronic issues of poor data collection in the region in terms of frequency, accuracy, content and the tools used to gather data,  there is a high probability that this will affect a possible future #datarevolution.

Our region is just beginnning to utilize data in the best way possible. As such there is certainly room for improvement particularly in understanding what available data there is and what it is currently being used for.

Why even consider this topic of “data”? This is due to the forward pace  the world is moving at. Data driven businesses and services in agriculture are more and more prevalent particularly with technology such as drones, robots and other data gathering tools that are readily available in many parts of the world. Which means the amount and variety of data that will be available will skyrocket!

Like everything else it will eventually filter down to our islands. So we need to be on point and ready. Now that we have an introduction to how data is currently perceived here in the Caribbean, be ready for our coming #datarevolution. Keep up to date of initiatives in this area within our region.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s