Improving Big Data management in T&T through organisation, administration and governance of large volumes of both structured and unstructured data can help address sustainable development needs. If done well and integrated with a solid Big Data architecture, it can provide successful analytics that can help drive better planning and delivery of goods and services in real time.
T&T is not unique in its development challenges, but there are sectors such as health and transport that offer opportunities for Big Data analytics to improve the response of public services. Take these examples:
The country has already shown its willingness to use big data as a viable option to address national health challenges and shape interventions. In 2014, geospatial applications for smart phones assisted the Ministry of Health in identifying the location of people with the Chikungunya virus to try to contain outbreaks in communities. Digital technologies that collect electronic patient records and help manage the performance of health institutions can provide customised diagnosis and medical treatment by integrating Big Data on various types of medical patient information. By utilizing key performance indicators in healthcare and integrating healthcare Big Data analytics of the population, a future smart Trinidad and Tobago can potentially help manage or prevent epidemics, mitigate lifestyle diseases, reduce health costs and keep patients away from hospitals to avoid costly in-house treatments.
The 7th Report of the Joint Select Committee on Land and Physical Infrastructure 2019 noted that commuters are adversely affected by inadequate and inefficient public transportation on a number of routes. It also noted that, at that time, there was no way to communicate with commuters in rural areas and at various bus stops. Big Data analytics from real time applications like U Report and Rapid Pro can help the public transportation sector predict passenger volumes and deliver a more efficient, cost effective service. Customer feedback in real time can be used to address issues such as vehicle malfunctions and road hazards (like road construction and landslides) that can potentially disrupt service through real time interventions. Big Data analytics from simple technologies like CCTV, GPS and traffic sensors can make public transport systems more reliable, eventually leading to reduced traffic congestion from fewer cars being on the roadways. Importantly, for special events like holiday weekends, festivals or weekend beach trips, geographic information systems like Google Maps can aggregate traffic data collected from roadside sensors, CCTV cameras, and even vehicle-based sensors so that historic traffic data is collected and retained. This historic data can be used to identify traffic patterns through visual analysis that Government can use in planning longer-term improvements to the traffic network.
As a country with an eye on economic transformation, Big Data analytics can help drive meaningful growth in tourism. Big Data can provide key insights into where people are going, the purpose of their visit, how much they are spending, where they are staying and how satisfied they are with their trip. This allows T&T to refine its marketing strategies for specific target audiences. Potential visitors from key source markets like the USA, Canada and the Caribbean can be targeted through pinpoint marketing campaigns, offering packages tailored to visitors' likely interests and spending patterns. Such marketing strategies can lead to greater marketing cost efficiencies and higher visitor spend yields. Big Data insights can also help T&T discover new source markets with potential visitors that match the tourism product offering of Trinidad and Tobago. Big data can also be used in real time to anticipate and respond to tourists’ needs almost immediately, especially when improved visitor experiences can translate into higher spend yields and return visits.
Government ministries and agencies that distribute, manage and plan social interventions collect records and compile databases on people’s biographical data, geographical location, their economic and social conditions and more. All this data contributes to Big Data. By digitizing this data and conducting trend analysis of this data, decision makers can improve real time, informed decisions about social interventions by identifying areas that are in immediate need of attention.
T&T has clear indicators of readiness to participate in the global big data revolution, and can leverage Big Data analytics to improve service delivery, transparency and efficiency in public sector management and sustainable development.