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Keynote Address by the Honourable Colm Imbert, Minister of Finance at the United Nations Big Data Forum 2021

12/01/2021 | 11:31am EST

Keynote Address by the Honorable Colm Imbert, MP, Minister of

Finance, Government of Trinidad and Tobago

Event: United Nations Trinidad & Tobago Big Data Forum - Day 2

Date: Wednesday 1st December 2021

Event Theme: The Transformational Role of Big Data Technologies and Analytics -Economic Transformation

Speech Theme: "Using big data to drive meaningful change in T&T"

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

It is my pleasure to share some thoughts with you on the Transformational Role of Big Data Technologies and Analytics for the Government and to highlight some of the work that the Ministry of Finance is doing in pursuit of our agenda to transform Trinidad & Tobago into a digital nation.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation. Economic systems, industry structures and business models have been upended, highlighting social inequalities, governance issues and the frailty of life itself. In fact, the pandemic showed us how interdependent we are, how reliant we are on technology, and how critical and useful data is to our everyday life. The pandemic has significantly increased data consumption


and applications in many ways, with businesses seeing increased engagement from existing customers and an influx of new digital customers. This shift to a more digital economy has also enabled the public sector to accumulate large volumes of data. Big Data is a concept that has emerged in recent times and encapsulates a new global development and sustainability paradigm. It refers to data that is so large, fast and complex that it is difficult to process using traditional methods

It involves extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions. It includes the vast amount of information passively collected from everyday interactions with government departments, digital products or services, including mobile phones, credit cards, GPS devices, and social media.

Big data can be characterized using what many data scientists and analytics refer to as the '5Vs'.

  1. Volume-thesize of the dataset-has to be large. 'Large' being relative and ever-increasing.
  2. Velocity-refersto how quickly data is generated, collected and analyzed. It is ideal that data is captured as close to real-time as possible.
  3. Variety-refersto the diverse data types collected from varied data sources. Datasets with wider variety now lead to richer insights.
  4. Veracity-refersto the quality of the data: is it 'clean' and accurate. This gives the assurance that you can trust the data you have


collected, and you comfortably begin to base your decisions on the insights garnered from this data.

5. Value- this is a critical component because the aggregation of data does not necessarily translate to value. What matters most is how you use the information you have collected and what meaningful insights can be extracted and applied to positively impact your decision-making process.

According to a recent UN report, 64.2 zettabytes of data were created in 2020, representing a 314 per cent increase from 2015. A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes, and I can actually remember a time when one gigabyte was considered large. This means that data is now being created and used at an exponential rate!

In our ever-changing world, the focus is shifting from the quantity of data to appreciating the value of data. Big Data is an untapped resource and is the lifeblood of decision-making and the raw material for accountability. It is now the currency of the technological economy and is incorporated into every sector- from manufacturing, banking and agriculture to disaster risk reduction, urban management and biodiversity monitoring.

Many countries have come to regard Big Data as a growth engine for the future and a solution to existing economic and social problems. It has enormous potential in the public sector and governments worldwide have announced comprehensive strategies for using Big Data at the national level. Information that is readily available in real-time enables government agencies and departments to easily identify areas in need of attention. More


diverse, integrated, timely and trustworthy information now lead to better decision-making and real-time citizen feedback. The provision of the right information on the right things at the right time enables public and private institutions, individuals, and companies to make the right choices that are good for them and for the world they live in.

Governments are also exploring ways to systematically use big data collected by the financial sector to understand the needs and nuances of institutions and elements operating a financial system and how this system fits into the wider economy. These innovative approaches can help identify development needs, provide early-warning signals on potential emergencies or crises, plan, implement and evaluate national development programmes.

Advances in computing and data science now make it possible to process and analyze Big Data in real time to provide information that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

Governments across the globe are also focusing on analysing Big Data to modernise services and improve their economies.

In April 2020, the Chinese government indicated its intent to recognise data as a "new factor of production", stating that "data is now listed as one of the factors alongside traditional factors such as land, labour, capital, and technology." The Chinese Government has also launched an "Internet+" policy to use big data to help develop the economy. Internet+ is designed to improve the efficiency of the market and to assist in building a planned economy. China is utilising big data for taxation in many ways. China's tax


administration system makes extensive use of big data solutions that use multi- and cross-referencing to verify business information.

Other examples include:

  • India's established open government data platform which provides public data to analysts, researchers and practitioners.
  • The Republic of Korea is leading public big data applications for transportation planning at the city level, monitoring of infectious disease, manufacturing process analysis, and business engagement.
  • Ireland created a Joint Industry/Government Task Force to drive the development of big data in the country.


The GoRTT recognises all the advantages that can be gained by the effective use of data to inform decision-making. Ensuring sustainable development calls for innovative ideas utilizing new and multiple sources of data for more effective economic and financial modelling.

Big Data Analytics is thus an intelligent solution which allows governments to make better decisions and inform their development plans. The process gives us the ability to access data - to examine it, to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it.

Big data has enormous potential in the public sector. The Government's engagement with citizens, such as managing and distributing social benefits, collecting taxes, monitoring the national health and education systems,


This is an excerpt of the original content. To continue reading it, access the original document here.


Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago published this content on 01 December 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 01 December 2021 16:30:10 UTC.

© Publicnow 2021
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