Given the aim of big data is to find connections and patterns in the vast amount of information collected and then relate it to human behaviour, insights gleaned can lead to innovative ideas
Knowledge is power and in this age of information technology, big data has become the real power. But how the power of big data is harnessed is crucial. Since the aim of big data is to find connections and patterns in the vast amount of information collected and then relate it to human behaviour, or understanding of complex systems, processes or institutions, insights thus gleaned can lead to innovative ideas and solutions.
One such interesting innovation has been developed in Guizhou, a mountainous province in the southwest of China. Here, big data analytics have been applied in the judiciary to create a ‘smart court’. The Judicial Big Data Application Platform provides judges with case assistance, trial assistance and case analysis and has improved the efficiency of the judiciary. The “judicial intelligent robot”, helps to process and analyse the history of case data of courts at all levels and establishes a large database to provide ‘intelligent’ assistance to the judges. At present, the Guizhou High Court is using this system to make better-informed decisions, say local officials.
But what makes this innovation really novel is its judicial big data public consultation system. Here, the litigants can fill in the details of their case and the system analyses data of similar cases and judgments to guide them even before they come to the courts about their chances of winning or losing their case. This kind of system could be extremely useful for India where about 3.3 crore cases are pending in various courts in the country. According to a Law Ministry data, of all the pending cases, 60 per cent are more than two years old, while 40 per cent are more than five years old. In the Supreme Court, more than 30 per cent of pending cases are more than five years old. This is because the judiciary faces a shortage of over 6,000 judges, including over 5,000 in the lower courts. No wonder there are 2,76,74,499 cases awaiting appeal in the district and subordinate courts. On an average, there are 19 judges per 10 lakh people. A scientific collection of data across all courts and its intelligent use can bring down pendency and deliver speedy justice. At least then, justice delayed will not be justice denied.
Big data has also been leveraged by Guizhou to achieve remarkable economic growth. Once considered industrially backward and poor because of its hilly topography, Guizhou has used big data technology to leapfrog from the fringes to register the third-fastest economic growth among China’s 31 provinces in 2016. The number of big data related companies in Guizhou increased from less than 1,000 in 2013 to over 8,900 in 2017 and big data investment into Guizhou was approximately 35.28 billion yuan ($5.5 billion) this year. Its swanky high rise buildings and high tech infrastructure are a testimony to its upward mobility. In fact, Guizhou’s capital city, Guiyang was ranked as the best performing city in 2016 by the Milken Institute, a not for profit think tank which analysed Guiyang’s growth in jobs, wages, gross domestic product, and foreign direct investment.
Guizhou embarked upon its technology overdrive after the Chinese President Xi Jinping underlined big data technology as a priority in 2014. Guizhou has now the second highest data centres in China with over 70,000 servers. At the centre of this boom is the Gui’an, a newly developed 1,795 square kilometres suburb. Gui’an , which is just a hour’s drive from Guiyang, houses over 200 influential national and international companies. A slew of incentives, including rent-free office space, tax benefits, state support, lower costs and its natural temperate cool weather, have encouraged Apple, Microsoft, Huawei, Hyundai Motor, Tencent, Qualcomm, Dell, IBM and Alibaba to set up data centres here.
India’s presence here is in the form of a training academy as a part of a strategic partnership between NIIT and the Guizhou provincial Government to train students, professionals and government employees in big data. Further, NASSCOM has established an IT corridor to facilitate Indian software companies set up office in Guizhou. Zeta-V Technology Solutions, an Indian start-up, has been funded by Guiyang Municipal Government to develop a Sino-Indian Digital Collaborative Opportunities Plaza (SIDCOP) to connect Indian and Chinese companies.
In addition to creating employment opportunities, big data is contributing to Guizhou’s economic growth by increasing incomes and alleviation of poverty. State officials say that 6.7 million rural people have been lifted out of poverty over the past five years and the growth rate of disposable household income in the province is the highest in China. This, they say, has been possible by accumulating real time information on the poor population and using it to make targeted interventions. So by using big data, they track populations who are poor, their geographical locations, and their immediate and necessary needs to be able to provide the right support. One such way has been to create e-commerce platforms and use the data to help connect people from different provinces to sell their farm produce or handicrafts online and increase their incomes.
In Guizhou’s Anshun city, the Pingba District People’s Government and Guizhou E-Commerce Cloud,(the government’s commerce department initiative), launched the “E-commerce Poverty Alleviation District Managers in Action” campaign to help farmers sell their rice to bigger markets outside the district. Big data was used to analyse consumer needs, forecast sales, manage the inventory and, help improve production efficiency. However, it was not just the excellent quality of the various varieties of Pingba rice that boosted sales.
Endorsement of its quality by the local government added extra value leading to the sale of more than 150,000 kilograms online in a period of three months. It is being sold to over 100 cities located in 20 provinces and has boosted the incomes of 191 poor households. Official records state that Guizhou currently has 6,949 e-commerce service stations reaching out to 80 per cent of its towns and villages. In 2017, e-commerce platforms helped rural Guizhou secure sales of agricultural produce to the tune of 15.3 billion yuan ($2.2 billion).
India too, has recently launched an online platform for its farmers. The National Agriculture Market (eNAM), is a single-window service that integrates agriculture markets or mandis online so that farmers and traders can view all agriculture produce market related information (buying and selling) and services. Farmers can bid for the best price across markets in 21 mandis in eight States. But poor internet connectivity and availability and a lack of understanding of digital media may throw a spanner in the works for rural farmers.
Ensuring connectivity was also a challenge for Guizhou where 92.5 percent of its land is covered in hills. The Government’s active push to ensure infrastructure has given almost 96 per cent of its villages access to fiber-optic broadband and 4G. Over 200 e-commerce training sessions by Guizhou E-Commerce Cloud, which reached out to over 100,000 people throughout the province, raised awareness of the power of this platform.
Additionally, the Guiyang Big Data Application Demonstration Centre has been instituted to further understanding of big data usages. Also helping to show the practical use of big data is Duocaibao, a cloud based mobile application developed by Guizhou Colorful Treasure, a web portal of the Guizhou government service network. The app is based on the needs of the people as analysed by big data gathered by the network. Downloaded by 1.33 million people, this app is a handy one stop platform that integrates more than 100 Government services including real estate registrations, social security applications, seeking appointments for marriage registration, birth registration certificate, driving license applications etc. At the same time, it also allows citizens to make payments for water, gas and electricity bills.
One of its most useful features, which should be adapted in India, is for the senior citizens. They no longer need to physically present themselves to get their pension or social security. All s/he needs to do now is use the app to send his/her photograph to the relevant government department and the pension will be transferred to his/her account.
(The writer is a senior journalist)
Writer & Courtesy: The pioneer