Data in Policy making
Nepal, which has always been affected by natural disaster like earth quake, landslides, flood etc is heavily impacted by the devastating loss of lives and human capital including losses from the COVID-19 pandemic and the converging technology revolution sweeping the globe. Covid 19, climate change and technology convergence has deepened existing inequalities, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable communities the hardest. It has put a spotlight on economic inequalities and fragile social safety nets that leave vulnerable.
Covid 19 has accelerated some few initiatives of Digital Nepal Frame work conceived by the government of Nepal in the year 2018 in some sectors. Government of Nepal has rolled of Digital Framework Nepal initiatives without doing adequate homework on investment of the project including regulatory framework. Private sector engagement is necessary for effective implementation of such ambitious ptoject. Nepalese citizens should understand that the rapid development of information and communication technologies (ICT) is significantly changing our data landscape, and influences everything — from our daily lives, to business, science and public governance. The policy makers and decision makers have to move faster in this crisis situation. They also have to step back and evaluate the digital infrastructure and see where are the bottle necks.
Converging Technology revolution and POTENTIAL FOR HUMAN CAPITAL
The converging technology revolution comprises the synergistic combination of four groups of technologies: Info-Technology, Bio-technology, Nano-Technology and Cognitive - Technologies. Adaptive Learning • Cogno: Link between emotion and learning • Info: sensors for capturing facial expressions and body parameters • AI based “affective computing” to understand learning style and suggest changeAgriculture • Bio: Synthetic biology to enhance photosynthesis or absorption of nutrients • Nano: Embedded plant sensors that communicate with electronic devices • Info: Crop and water sensors for real-time moisture measurement and irrigation, Machine to machine interaction Robots, drones. COVID-19 Vaccine • Bio: Rapid genomic sequencing of virus • Nano: Lipid nanoparticles deliver strands of m-RNA without being degraded by body’s defences • Info: Used at all stages
They go beyond digital technologies, although they are underpinned by the latter. Data is central to the converging technology revolution; a unique feature is the integration of data from the human, physical, biological and cyber worlds. The convergence of technological breakthroughs is driven by artificial intelligence (AI), data flows, computing power, and connectivity. These breakthroughs can improve service delivery, productivity, and innovation, but they can also exacerbate inequalities and eliminate people’s agency and empowerment. High
speed computing power and connectivity are the other two factors powering this revolution. These characteristics drive both the potential and the risks from the converging technology revolution. The development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), itself a combination of information technology and cognitive science and made possible by the availability of vast amounts of data, cheap high speed computing power and ubiquitous connectivity, is further enabling and driving the converging technology revolution. These developments have profound implications for human capital – creating the possibility of rapid accumulation of human capital through technological innovations in education (e.g., by improving learning quality), health (e.g., by improving stunting or reducing non-communicable diseases) and social protection (e.g., by addressing informality of the labor force) sectors; as well as supporting sectors such as agriculture, water, energy, sectors critical for Nepal’s development. Defining policies that regulate technological convergence industry may not be simple or straightforward. Data collection and usage are tied to digital privacy issues because a piece or aggregation of information could identify an individual or reveal patterns in one’s activities. Converged or smart
technologies leverage large volumes of data to try to improve the user experience by generating more tailored and anticipatory results. However, such data can potentially identify, locate, track, and monitor an individual without the person’s knowledge. Such data can also potentially be sold to third-party entities without an individual’s awareness. As the use of converged technologies continues to propagate, digital privacy issues will likely remain central. As converged devices generate and consume large volumes of data, multiple data security concerns have emerged: potentially increased number of access points susceptible to cyberattacks, linkage to physical security, and theft of data. Nepal could capitalize from emerging Converging Technology Revolution and Human Capital to accelerate its development of human capital and promote adaptability and resilience to future shocks. This requires strategic planning for uplifting the economy of the country driven by dynamic visionary leadership.
New (and usually networked) ICT devices are just some of the factors that is expected to contribute to the growing volume and variety of available data in Nepal. Almost every person, company, organization or institution produces data on a daily basis, using computers, smart phones, smart TVs, self-driving cars, different equipment etc.
Think Tanks need to be engaged in working out strategies for investment in technology to reap the benefit from Technology. The new technologies that have emerged have created the possibility — and also the need — for more sophisticated manipulation and analysis of data. However, coping with data has become increasingly challenging. The new data reality brings many challenges for traditional approaches to empirical research and data analysis, making it clear that the ‘new reality’ cannot be met without new, technology-driven, techniques. On the other hand, awareness of new technological capacities and opportunities is creating growing demand for more sophisticated forms of data usage such as real-time analytics, automated data processing and decision-making through machine learning and the like. In the context of Nepal Health , financial sectors specially will be dominated by technology driven infrastructure. The old analytical techniques are getting filled with so-called data science.
How do we create economic value from data and how policy should adapted? Policy making can be made agile and iterative. This may need new institutions and new government may be required. Citizens have to be tech savvy. Global players have their specifications. Their activities have to be aligned with policy and objectives.
There is Climate changes with aging population in some part of world and young population in other parts. Smart phones with tons of data with volumes, velocity and varieties of data that have exploded. Data science is often understood as the intersection of advanced statistics, computer science and particular domain expertise Data science can be defined by the OSEMN model, i.e. “according to the following five steps: (1) obtaining data, (2) scrubbing data, (3) exploring data, (4) modelling data, and (5) interpreting data.”
Data science is more present and engaged in the business sector and academia. Data science seeks technology-supported ways to process and manipulate complex data — especially ‘big data’ — but also to accelerate, simplify and even automate these processes. Data scientist applies knowledge of methodology, math and analytical skills by using programming languages (e.g. Python, R, SQL) and algorithms as well as other computer solutions (e.g. software for visualization, such as Tableau) to make complex data insightful and applicable for solving issues. Considering that data science requires a wide spectrum of knowledge, skills and, very often, specific domain expertise to tackle specific problems, it is usual for a team consisting of professionals with different skills and backgrounds to be formed for executing data science tasks.
In recent decades, there has been a growing awareness data science can inform a better policy making process and lead to more adequate, more efficient and more effective public policies. Therefore, policymakers and policy advocates often tend to provide data-based arguments for particular policy solutions, usually gained through sound empirical research or analysis on that topic.
The technological reality has generated the opportunity or/and necessity for a more complex, more sophisticated and technology-driven approach to transforming data into policy action that goes beyond traditional empirical research — data science.
Another important trend — political, rather than technical — that allows data science to penetrate into the public policy sphere is the opening of government data. Namely, the growing demand for more transparent, accountable and responsive government — which is coming from citizens is resulting in more and more governments deciding to open up and make their data accessible. They are allowing stakeholders to approach, analyze or use the government’s data for various purposes. Once the data is open and available, opportunities to apply them in different spheres, from business to policy monitoring and analysis has become endless.
Possibilities and opportunities for the application of data science solutions in public policy are increasingly gaining interest.
Using technological solutions and data science for providing policy measures is becoming especially popular among city governments in developing countries. Namely, due to frequent traffic accidents, resulting in a number of deaths every year, as well as generally low safety in this regard, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Transportation were assigned by the government to develop an adequate policy to address this issue. They decided to provide possible solutions in a data-driven and technologically sophisticated way.
More and more cities across the globe are being equipped with different technological solutions (e.g. phone apps that connect citizens with public services, various types of sensors and similar), provided by governments and other stakeholders, which improve citizens’ well-being and the general functioning of cities. However, very often, government officials and decision-makers are not aware of the full potential of the data generated through these solutions. In other words, despite the ‘technologizing’ of the cities’ governance, the link that is missing in order to extract relevant policy insights from the amount of collected data and maximize the effectiveness of the implemented ICT solutions is data science.
The importance and potential of data science in governance and policy making is also becoming recognized by academic institutions. In that sense, university degree programs in this field are being established in order to provide students and the community with knowledge and skills that are in step with the technological developments. Although still in its infancy, it is certain that such technology-influenced trends will shape the future of public governance and policy making to a great extent.
Additionally, there is a growing awareness that such trends should be taken up by civic society in order to ensure more democratic governance, accountability and influence on policy making by non-institutional actors. There is a need to promote the application of data science in solving real-world, community problems, providing the necessary tools (or tech infrastructure) as well as educating professionals and empower civic society to participate in policy making by using technologies and data science solutions. In other words, such initiatives are trying to help the community to overcome the technological and knowledge barriers to participation in policy making in the contemporary data environment.
The new data landscape brings new opportunities not only to governments but also to other stakeholders involved in policy processes. Think Tanks of Nepal and concerned stakeholders should work out strategies for governments in making the first steps towards incorporating data science into governance, non-government actors will have to take this trend more seriously in the upcoming period and adapt their work and capacities so that they can respond to policy issues through analysis and by putting complex data sets into action. In this regard, every actor will have to give more attention to the strengthening of data science capacity, from civic movements to think tanks. This ultimately means that data scientists will play an increasingly important role, along with researchers and analysts, in the analysis of public policies and the formulation of policy demands.
Dynamics of rural transformation
The complexity of the rural transformation process calls for multi-layered governance and new forms of technical and financial assistance. There are many working groups and forums, with different constituencies and mandates, that explore the central and unifying role. All Platform activities in the strategic initiative constitute a longer-term exercise in close cooperation with a growing number of institutions and initiatives towards the better-informed positioning of various stakeholders including donor programs within the new development framework. The process of rural transformation must thus be addressed by a policy agenda aimed at making rural transformation ecologically more sustainable and socially inclusive. Building Technology platforms, Policies, the critical insight to a Nepal’s journey of success requires one to be able to work with and grow the ecosystem. IT sector also need to have volunteers from not-for-profit Think Tank, staffed mostly by volunteers from the tech world, who dedicate their time, energy and expertise towards Nepal’s hard problems. This group should remain committed to being in the background, taking pride in the success of partners who are
solving for Nepal’s hard problems. Engagement of committed stakeholders, who have been serving Nepal’s ICT industry including international parties who are leading global providers of information and communications
technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices, is essential to bring digital platform to every person, home, and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.
A number of actions has been taken through various agencies for excluded groups during this crisis, including an issues paper that outlines the disproportionate impact experienced by the vulnerable. All NGOs, INGOs, and private sector stakeholders should be led by an IT professional team so that the services become effective. These IT professionals should have a good background in Social Science , Data Science and Legal degree. Social scientists should reskill their knowledge in the area of mathematics, Statistics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), INternet of Things(IOTs), Smart Devices, Robotics, Technology Convergence etc. The Curriculum department of universities should remodel the courses curriculum according to the new technology revolution.There is a need to deploy analytical tools and resources for decision makers and communities around the world to craft better policies for better lives for persons from vulnerable groups. While COVID-19 has created a human crisis of unprecedented scale, it also presents an opportunity to reimagine inclusion from vulnerable groups.
Engagement of all concerned stakeholders to strengthen the promise to fight discrimination and prejudice, specifically for vulnerable or disadvantaged groups is necessary. Financial institutions’ fund for the poorest should be rolled out guided by people friendly policy commitments on excluded people which has a chance to guarantee the inclusion of persons in development programs. Data of vulnerable groups in real time can be captured in today's world because of technology advancement for effective evidence based planning.
Challenges emerging from the COVID 19 pandemic include dangerous care home settings, increased domestic violence and discrimination in healthcare and social environments, which can include access to information. The wider digital divide has made learning difficult for those without resources, especially those already living below the poverty line. Special task guided by professional think tank groups is necessary for empowering all to participate in, and benefit from, the development process. A most vulnerable inclusive accessible and sustainable future is about inclusion of persons without resources in the social management response and recovery.
There is a serious requirement of engaging Think Tanks of the country to explore strategic opportunities to ensure that converging technologies are integrated into public sector policies, plans and programs in effective and equitable ways. Some of these technologies are already being used by the private sectors, however, not extensively for human capital development. There is a further need to identify constraints that prevent the effective implementation at the ground level, including the sectoral silos that need to be opened up to incorporate these technologies to produce greater impact. And this is particularly pertinent in the context of
implementing policies and programs in the relatively new (and fragile) federal structure, in which converging technologies could potentially offer more effective pathways to improve service delivery. IT forces of the nation should be integrated with concerned stakeholders to strengthen better service delivery at the ground level of the fragile federal structure of Nepal.
Women in Data
As Nepal passes the Covid-19 disruptions Nepal has the data on tragic loss of life, economic disruption, and wide-ranging social dislocation. Women were being affected differently than men; that they faced the double burden of job and household; that they, the heart of the informal economy, were first to lose their jobs. Nepal needs to have women working on that data.
Women give a more accurate picture of reality, one that policymakers, community leaders, and women themselves can use to make decisions that will shape Nepal’s recovery from the Covid-19 recession.
Without this vital information on gendered impacts, relief efforts were ineffective and unaccountable. For women in business, the lack of information on eligibility and application criteria became an obstacle to effective relief.
There is a need for more women participating in the data and technology sector to fully appreciate women’s contributions to the economy, governance, and social life and the effects that policies have on them. Stakeholders should workout strategies to encourage girls and women to stay engaged with data and technology.
When it comes to learning math and engaging with data, there are no inherent differences between boys and girls, but social and cultural pressures push girls out of STEM and into other fields. Social factors affect the chances a girl will stay with STEM and forge a career in data or technology.
Math and science are equally important for girls and boys because they teach important analytical thinking skills. Their young minds should be exposed early to STEM toys and learning toolkits to help them develop the foundation of a scientific approach: try, fail, learn, and try again to achieve one’s goals. Most importantly, they will develop the confidence to hypothesize and experiment by themselves, and the self-assurance that they can excel in technical careers.
Girls need female mentors and role models. Girls in urban settings have access to resources (the internet, television, technical schools) that girls in rural settings may not. Making STEM available to all types of girls should be at the forefront of a strategy to increase their representation in STEM. It’s not just the arithmetic but the concepts and logic that math teaches girls and boys that set them up to succeed in STEM fields. At early age right from class five onward teach students to develop thinking in computing way. In eighth and ninth grades, encourage girls to stay in STEM. Women of all backgrounds can work on data-driven initiatives or support women in STEM with programs, jobs, or fellowships.
There is a need for encouraging women’s participation in Data for Development work to encourage evidence-based policymaking in Nepal.
Ministries of Nepal
More than the issue of privacy, there are issues of value creation in in the firms. Fundamental prerequisite for government is skills. They need skilled manpower that can create analytic value for government and clients of government. There are great opportunities for data scientists and government. Innovation is an important element of almost any solution to various problems that afflict society and the economy. The fundamental prerequisite for governance is skills.
Nepal. Governments' leaders require joint efforts from corporations, industrial organizations and educational institutions and should share learning experiences of regional countries on their best practices, policy suggestions and vision in cultivating the sustainable digital talent ecosystem led by female ICT talents. The world ahead will be one dominated by devices: connecting, sensing, and reacting to everything around us. Leaders of Nepal should position Think Tanks supported by academicians to plan on our remodeling education programs which not only reaffirms commitment to social responsibility, but also prepares the next generation of experts to design and navigate this digital landscape. In Asia the front runner countries like China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore are already functioning exploiting value chain and reaping full benefit from technology under best regulatory framework whereas starter country like Nepal need to be led by ICT youth force deliveries engaging concerned stakeholders. Main foundation Pillars are Innovations, Ecosystem, Policy regulatory environment.
How much Nepal government is aware of the fact that the future of work is going to be very different from now? AI, Robotics, Machine learning, 3D printing, Bio Technology, Virtual reality, Deep learning, Drones, Augmented reality, Smart objects are already getting deeply in rooted in our everyday life just like electricity, computers, phones are for us today. How should we strategize in order to make our government, researchers, academia, private stakeholders etc plan for quick initiation? It is an exciting time to be in public policy because a lot of things are being turned upside down. The Ministry of Federations and Administration has to play lead role in such initiatives at all level with the lion ministries. They may need new institutions and new government officials. There is always going to be a gap between where the policy world is and where the technology world is. Government need not only have to focus on traditional education system and critical thinking they have to promote innovation with good regulatory framework and budget, entrepreneurship for new generations including reskilling and upskilling the existing labor force supported by adequate budget. Innovation is important element for various problems in the society and the economy. Structured adjustments are required. There will always be a gap between the policy world and technological world. For narrowing this gap data driven innovation is required.The digital divides will get worst. Due to pandemic we have been forced to look at technology in order to deliver services through new means. The pandemic has shown that we need to be more together and care together. We need to have value oriented debate so that we can now initiate an environment for Artificial Intelligence AI etc to inspire fundamental rights, economic development with sustainability, inclusion and with more democracy. This is not possible if there is no good visionary leadership and rule of law. There is good opportunity but has to be governed by political will. Policy makers have to embrace digital development as key to all development agendas. Pandemic has taught us that we cannot work on health policy without thinking about digital technology. We cannot work in education policy without understanding the role iof technology. Other ministries also need to embrace technology. Governing bodies have to have clear vision that digital development is a core element of any society's development. Human capital development is urgent. People should change and reframe their thinking.