By Nayela Deeba
Dec. 12, 2016
The United Nations (UN) is actively working towards a mission: to provide good health, education and redefine gender equality, especially in the Third World countries. However, to support these developments, it is not enough to set up a community. Even providing connectivity to say social media or messaging apps such as WhatsApp will do little to help.
Hence, it is important to implement technology solutions to achieve these goals."Our goal in UN is to figure out the problems - [poverty, water retention] - and apply ICT [to solve] the issues we are facing," Ozzeir Khan, Chief of Business Relationship Management, Office of Information Communication Technology, UN Secretariat, New York headquarters, said during the GCIO Asia Forum 2016 in Singapore on 24 November 2016.
Currently, UN is focusing on three key areas to provide thriving countries with a better future.
Big data and machine learning
To innovate, UN wants to experiment with big data and machine learning techniques. Recently, UN leveraged big data and machine learning to look at the history of peacemaking around the world. To enable that, it provided developers with access to real data during peacemaking project meetings.
UN hopes to embark on more projects using these solutions."We are also looking at micro and nano payments (digital solutions), and how they can transform thriving nations across the border," Khan added.
Environment-Haiti Case Study
Khan said UN has rolled out real-life data science to pursue the next level of sustainable development. For instance, a few years ago, UN deployed its telecommunications and data experts team to Haiti to assist earthquake driven victims. The relief workers were able to crowdsource information and rescue trapped victims with the help of mapping solutions.
"Our next question is: can data science reduce poverty and hunger?" Khan questioned.
"We need an ecosystem of partners, startups and businesses to invest in technology and help us drive our projects forward," Khan urged.
UN thus aims to foster partnerships with the public and private sectors -- be it non-governmental organisations (NGOs), individuals, government bodies or academia. There are four types of partnerships the UN is looking for:
1 ) Brokering partnerships. Since UN cannot embark on ventures alone, it needs to collaborate with government bodies and institutions to innovate.
2) Tying in with UN projects. Here, UN fosters partnerships with big firms and academia to achieve sustainable goals such as eradicating poverty, and improving education.
3) Further accessing crowd funding platforms to mobilise data scientists and tackle complex challenges around Sustainable Development Goals. This is done through UN's Unite Nations' crowdsourcing" platform.
4) Fundraising for new initiatives as innovations may require additional support, funding and assistance from several startups and NGOs.