The Development Academy of the Philippines, through its Center of Excellence on Public Sector Productivity, conducted its sixth Kartilya session entitled “Managing Productivity through Big Data Analytics,” which conveyed the significance of understanding big data and its analytics that are now emerging in the public sector as a potential strategy in improving its services and outcomes.

The session. which was held last June 28 at the DAP Headquarters in Pasig City, is considered as an initial step in supporting the public sector in developing plans and ideas utilizing big data analytics and is aimed at eventually working with various government offices to capacitate them while serving as an avenue for the participants to share their knowledge and experiences in utilizing big data analytics.

Defining big data analytics

Knowledge management specialist Glo Anne Pauline Guevarra of the Asian Development Bank conducted a lecture defining the concept of big data analytics and gave context to how it is currently being used for development, specifically in achieving the country’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The concepts of big data and its analytics can sound intimidating to most, Ms. Guevarra said, especially to those without the technical know-how, but she stressed that big data is called such due to the volume and velocity of its production, reaching 2.5 quintillion bytes daily.  Due to its rate of production and its availability, the private sector, mostly businesses, saw its potential to improve their marketing strategies, and, hence, their profits, and this potential can also be greatly utilized by the public sector to further development, the ADB officer said.

Improving lives through data use

She also pointed out that it is the people who give meaning to data.  Creative ways can be used in doing such to discover patterns of human activity and habits and thus find ways to improve people’s lives.  In the context of development, Guevarra related how particular countries use big data analytics, such as Uganda’s machine roof counting to measure poverty.

In the Philippines, efforts have already been made by some government offices to use big data analytics.  The creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology was a step towards the country’s participation in the information technology revolution, Guevarra said.  An example of a government project using this technology is the Metro Manila Development Authority’s Interactive Traffic Navigator that provides real-time traffic information.

Smart card technology

The Department of Transportation is currently implementing an automatic fare collection system that uses the smart card technology more known as the “Beep Card.”  It further envisions extending the scheme in the coming years.

PhilHealth, meanwhile, is currently into its own digital transformation and has created digital strategies that include a Department of Health-PhilHealth Analytics that provides a harmonization framework.  It also created a fraud analytics framework that would be carried out in three phases.

Guevarra said that while it is an accepted fact that big data and its analytics have potential risks, especially in terms of security, she, however, stressed that there is no point in stopping halfway.

Efforts should be made to capacitate the country’s labor force in coping with these technological strategies, she said.  Empowerment is also needed to spark curiosity and develop understanding of these topics.  The Philippines needs to take bigger steps in this arena to better serve the Filipino people, the knowledge management specialist added.