World March 3, 2016 | 10:00 am

Mobile phone signals assist Caribbean in containing spread of Chikungunya

Informationgenerated from mobile phones can be successfully used to contain the spread ofnon-communicable diseases, as was recently done to stem the spread of theChikungunya virus in the Caribbean. This opportunity was explained in theUnited Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)recently published report titled “An assessment of big data for officialstatistics in the Caribbean.”

The reportnotes that the use of big data through geospatial (or location) information wasused to support healthcare, and to design social intervention measures toaddress the outbreak of Chick-V across the region. In Trinidad and Tobago,geospatial applications for smart phones assisted the Ministry of Health inidentifying the location of infected persons and to contain the outbreak. Thestudy also underscored that big data is a viable option for computing officialstatistics in the Caribbean but highlighted that concerns about the protectionof privacy ranked high among the challenges to big data exploration forofficial purposes.

For thisreason, ECLAC has called on Caribbean countries to develop a Big Data Strategyto ensure that they take full advantage of the data revolution for sustainabledevelopment.

ECLACCaribbean’s Statistics and Social Development Unit Coordinator, AbdullahiAbdulkadri, made this call during a presentation he gave on Big Data at theCaribbean ICT Collaboration Forum held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port ofSpain from 18-19 February.

In hispresentation, Abdulkadri called for wider big data collaboration in theCaribbean, especially with big data producers. While noting that ECLAC recognizes the challenges faced by NationalStatistical Offices (NSOs) in using big data for official statistics, heindicated ECLAC’s ongoing support to NSOs in improving data dissemination inthe region.

Big Data forOfficial Statistics is a work program of the United Nations Statistics Divisionwith a Global Working Group (GWG) established to address the benefits andchallenges of big data. Big data is theterm used to describe large amounts of digital information generated duringeveryday activities, such as through internet transactions, from mobile phones,and from global positioning systems. One of the potential benefits of big datain official statistics is its use in the monitoring of the SustainableDevelopment Goals (SDGs).

For furtherinformation, please contact Alexander Voccia at orDenise Balgobin at Telephone: (868)224-8067/224-8075.

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