Stage 4
16:15 - 16:45
Tech for Good
The Future of Data for Development

Short thesis

Digital data offers manifold opportunities to development. However, it can also generate new forms of exclusion, new methods of surveillance and threaten individual privacy. In this session, we will explore six emerging trends identified in a recently published study on the future of data in development. In this session, practitioners will discuss how they're using data to advance development and explore how the trends might impact their work on the way forward.


Digital data offers manifold opportunities to development. It enables organizations and individuals to strengthen decision-making processes, improve service delivery and elicit meaningful citizen participation, among others. At the same time, it generates new forms of exclusion, new methods of surveillance and threatens individual privacy.

A recently published study is looking into the current state of data for development and emerging trends. For each of the six trends identified in the research, there are negative and positive potential scenarios as they unfold within the next years. For instance, more sources of data can make the development sector more agile, but may open opportunities for surveillance and threats to individual privacy. Artificial intelligence offers novel ways of tackling development problems, but in some cases, algorithms have proven to be biased, opaque and out of reach of scrutiny. While opening and sharing data between partners can serve the public good, this can also threaten citizen privacy due to the technical challenges of fully anonymising data.

In this session, we will present the key findings of the study, provide practical examples of how digital data is being used in development and engage the audience in a discussion on the potential negative and positive scenarios of increased reliance on data to achieve development impact.

supported by BMZ