Working Paper on Big Data for Development in China
The purpose of this paper is to draw the attention of development practitioners to the potential of Big Data for Development, i.e. identification of sources of Big Data relevant to policy and planning of development programmes, in China.
The paper reviews the existing literature on Big Data for Development. After a brief overview of the background and key concepts related to Big Data for Development, the paper argues that there is a case for development practitioners to explore the potential of Big Data for Development in China.
It recommends two levels of Big Data for Development work for development practitioners to engage with in China. The first level of work is related to creating an enabling environment for Big Data for Development. The second level of work concerns tackling particular development challenges with the Big Data approach. As illustrative examples, the paper discusses how Big Data could be used to promote sustainable e-waste disposal practices, improve productivity of the public sector, understand socioeconomic trend, map poverty, improve urban transport planning, and identify pollution hotspots in cities.
The paper also discusses the challenges that China faces in Big Data for Development application on 3 fronts – data, analytical, and operational/systemic. In particular, the issue of data protection and privacy requires strong attention in order to protect the fundamental rights of the public.
The paper concludes by highlighting how Big Data could contribute to result-based management, the importance of development practitioners to understand its limitations, and its link to inclusive decision-making process.