The Technology and Innovation Institute signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Silicon Valley entity Zenysis Technologies Inc. to exploit the benefits of Big Data for advanced analytics in various fields including the health sector which will eventually create the capacity to make informed decisions. The signing was done at the Institute’s headquarters on July 25, 2019 between Sandukan Debebe, director of the Institute and Zenysis Africa regional director, Bernard Laurendeau.
Advanced Analytics, according to a definition by a research and advisory company Gartner, “is the autonomous or semi-autonomous examination of data or content using sophisticated techniques and tools, typically beyond those of traditional business intelligence (BI), to discover deeper insights, make predictions, or generate recommendations.”
And Oracle defines Big Data as “larger, more complex data sets, especially from new data sources.”
While the world is quickly transiting into the accumulating, processing and using of data for proper decision making as well as prediction of the future, the developing world is leap frogging into digitalized data from the traditional paper data accumulation, Laurendeau, explained at the signing ceremony. While the developed world has accumulated data measured in zettabytes (approximately equal to a billion Terabytes, or a trillion Gigabytes.), the developing world is following quick with data measured in petabytes (1024 terabytes, or a million gigabytes), he added.
“Our focus for the Ethiopian project is government data like health, which is our priority for now. Since lack of harmonized data and proper accumulation, difficulty to find reliable data and lack of quick access to the data remains a challenge in Ethiopia,” Laurendeau explained.
In addition, the lack of institutional inter-usability and linkage of the available data does not enable policy makers to make long term plans resulting in wastage of public resources, he said.
Therefore, with the solution Zenysis provides, the data the institute provides will be processed to generate useful information to help make informed decision.
Sandukan on his behalf said that, the Institute has three objectives, which are, research and development, sectoral innovation and modernization, and data gathering, processing and distribution.
“The agreement we signed directly relates to the third objective. The information we generate enables the government to have proper discussion with the public which leads to informed decisions,” Sendukan added.
And, while the world is entering the new era of the fourth industrial revolution, Ethiopia should not be a follower but an active player, unlike our previous experiences. Hence, as data is the back bone of the fourth industrial revolution, partnerships of this kind help to exploit the potentials technology provides.
“It provides end to end solutions and helps us shape the future in the way we wanted it to be,” he asserted. “Zenysis is helping us with the technology which will be expanded further by the agreement signed.”
For now, the focus will be on health-related data because of the availability of huge data set on the sector in the country, according to Laurendeau. This data will then be integrated, harmonized and processed for advanced analytics. According to Laurendeau, triangulation of such data set helps to identify trends and predict what could happen in the future.
“One of the challenges will remain to be finding quality data. We take the data we have into our quality lab and compare data collected with other similar data to verify its reliability,” Laurendeau explained.
As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”, Laurendeau quoted, to justify their partnership with the Institute for this project. Experts from various sectors will be involved to help test the data as well as generate usable information for decision making.
Asked how they are going to mitigate the concerns of data monopoly as well as issues of privacy, Laurendeau said that they will only operate under the laws and regulations of the country which governs such activities. In order to maintain privacy of the data providers, they will collect non personalized data and access will be very limited to authorized personnel.
“When the need arises to avail the data to the public, we will create a public portal for general access,” Laurendeau added.
“We will distribute processed data and our activities will be bound by the laws and the nation as well as the agreements we will sign in the future,” Sandukan stated.
And, even though there can be no 100 percent warranty for security, the security at the data center of the Institute, which he said has no par in the country, is enough for the beginning of the intended activities.
“We could not have the capacity to do even if we do want to. But, we will only collect developmental data,” he announced.
According to Oracle, Big Data can be used for product development, predictive maintenance, customer experience improvement, identify fraud and check for compliance, for machine learning, bring about operational efficiency as well as trigger innovation.