Big Data for Development: A Review of Promises and Challenges

December 06, 2016 by Martin Hilbert

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The article uses a conceptual framework to review empirical evidence and some 180 articles related to the opportunities and threats of Big Data Analytics for international development. The advent of Big Data delivers a cost-effective prospect for improved decision-making in critical development areas such as healthcare, economic productivity and security. At the same time, the well-known caveats of the Big Data debate, such as privacy concerns and human resource scarcity, are aggravated in developing countries by long-standing structural shortages in the areas of infrastructure, economic resources and institutions. The result is a new kind of digital divide: a divide in the use of data-based knowledge to inform intelligent decision-making. The article systematically reviews several available policy options in terms of fostering opportunities and minimising risks.