If Data Is Poor, Governance Will Be Poorer

Synopsis: Efficient data led to good policymaking and yield better results


Today data emerges as a golden asset that is required to frame various strategies, government policies, and other things.

How did the adequate data capture help people?

Adequate data capture can help people in many ways. This is evident from various examples:

India: Odisha is able to manage cyclones much more effectively with almost zero loss of lives. This is possible because of precise monitoring of the cyclone path by IMD. It provides information of accurate forecasts of the place and time of landfall, wind speed and other parameters, which helps to understand the situation better.

But accuracy of production depends on the accuracy of data that is fed to the systems. Artificial intelligence and machine learning systems can give faulty predictions if data sets are not accurate.

World: Policy responses to the pandemic have relied on data sets such as the number of tests, daily death toll, etc to understand the spread of the virus and its nature.  Through statistical computation methods, forecasting models have been generated. It helps policymakers to predict the waves of Covid-19, its peak, and the fatality rate.

 What are the issues associated with data in India?

India still uses the age-old bureaucratic ways that led to compromise the quality of data. For example, during the 1st wave of the Covid pandemic, India struggles to have data on migrants. Post pandemic also, there are instances of delay in reporting of Covid-19 deaths along with delays in the audit of data about deaths.

Apart from these problems, there are various systematic issues that failed to capture accurate data of covid deaths in villages and panchayats.

What should government do to improve the quality of data?

National Guidelines for Data Quality recommended that an essential checklist and advanced monitoring to improve the quality of data. There are other steps that government should need to focus on:

Systematic strategy: Provision should be made to capture accurate data at the village, panchayat, district, state and national levels. There is need to use the latest technological tools for capturing this data, where chances of contamination are high. Data should be collected directly from its primary location, where it is in its most sacrosanct form.

Standardized model: The second step is to create a task force that will create standardized models. These models will then be implemented across entire India and all the states. This supplements the need for data-driven evidence-based policymaking.

Thus, one can say that better situation awareness through better availability of data can help in better crisis management and disaster preparedness.

Source: This post is based on the article “If Data Is Poor, Governance Will Be Poorer” published in Indian Express on 5th October 2021.

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