How Companies and Government can fight distrust using Big Data


Let’s cover a few scenarios for big data in finance, healthcare, and government

Companies and public institutions invest in big data IT infrastructure from data centers and cloud storage solutions through to data scientists and analysts. The ultimate goal is to gather analyse their customers, sales, inventory, supplier expenses, revenue, wastage, logistics, and fraud prevention. But there is more to big data than this.

Large companies have big data insights that society can benefit from, yet there are not enough big data stories being shared or getting through. We are still trying to overcome the tug of war between data privacy and Big Data. Yet both benefit each other.

Big Data can be used to increase trust amongst the public by setting examples that directly impact them as consumers. Today, people are worried about privacy concerns on the collection of personal data. Then, there is the perception that companies and government institutions are evil or deep state operatives. Most of the time, private companies and governments just want to ensure budgets and investments are spent the right way and satisfy shareholders and stakeholders. While trust needs to be earnt, companies and governments are also grappling with privacy issues, identity theft, scams, disinformation, and fake news.

Big Data has a role as a unifying force that can help companies, government, and private citizens overcome these challenges.

Let’s cover a few scenarios of Big Data in Finance, Healthcare, and Government.

The finance industry is pioneering sustainability efforts to tackle climate change.

The term ESG, Environment, Society and Governance, have become the guiding beacon for the finance industry to contribute to sustainability. You may ask, how do banks, insurance companies and capital investors help the environment? This industry is already using Big Data, so huge in fact that it can have an impact on sustainability and populations. For example, funds that are invested in companies that harm the environment, or have operations that are inefficient causing large waste and emissions, will affect profits and public perception. The finance industry is already pioneering in using big data by linking sustainability and profits. 

Another topic is using governance to fight corruption and money laundering. Banks use artificial intelligence to analyse their data. Imagine if the big data gathered and insights gained were shared with developing countries struggling to fight corruption and money laundering. Developing countries are often held back generation after generation because of corruption, bribery and kickbacks. Big data has the potential for the finance industry to play a bigger role as part of their ESG goals. More importantly, the public will welcome these outcomes, build trust and counter distrust.

Let’s examine how Big Data is helping the COVID-19 pandemic fight in building trust and countering disinformation.

Yes, there is data on the daily case numbers and vaccination rates. However these daily statistics can cause fatigue and the message is lost. Dig deeper to find stories unfolding within the ocean of data that can inspire and motivate the general public. Reports that relay  how many hours our nurses, doctors and front line workers have spent to save lives. Instead of reporting deaths in isolation, pair with individual stories to celebrate the healthcare industry and how many lives they have saved based on credible data findings. Another use of Big Data is to target campaigns in local municipalities, using Google and Facebook location data to discover their hospital bed and ICU capacities. It will help the public better appreciate the burden on hospitals without their cooperation. Who wants to go to the hospital! 

Another example is using big data to gain trust from migrants and multicultural communities.

Mostly, migrants coming from developing countries have a level of distrust in governments or authorities rife with corruption, oppression and control. In countries like Australia where governance is more mature, the government may still struggle to earn the trust of new migrants. Simply spending funds on language translations and simplistic explainers is not enough to engage the multicultural migrant communities. Big Data can play a strong role here. 

How can it be done? 

In Australia, small businesses account for over 97% of all businesses contributing to 32% of Australia’s total GDP*. This alone holds a huge wealth of information, aka Big Data. Within these statistics are real success stories of new migrants who often turn to opening small businesses, relying on their entrepreneurial skills as an alternative to employment. Most migrants live in urban areas where they will be drivers in their local economies. Big Data should be used to communicate to multicultural communities and the majority of the population that migrants are actually part of the big picture. 

While migrant communities are contributors to the Australian economy, they are often portrayed in the mainstream media in a negative light, especially during the pandemic. Big data can help. A case in point is during the lockdowns that occurred in Sydney and Melbourne, the city’s resident’s movements were severely limited. Yet the essential economy, sustaining our daily lives needed the essential workers: supermarket employees, hospitality, delivery drivers, maintenance and trade workers, and healthcare workers. In Sydney many in the migrant communities are essential workers, who contributed to keeping the essential economy alive and supplied. Imagine the practice of analysing big data to unravel stories from supermarket chains and online delivery apps on how their staff contributed to the essential economy and essential workers. Credit card companies can report on how restaurant owners team up with delivery drivers for take away, to keep the population fed and the hospitality industry to remain open.

Big stories and life changing findings need big data. In turn, big data also helps in earning the trust of the customers, shareholders and general public. In the coming years, big data will play a major role in achieving our sustainability, economic and diversity goals. Big Data also combats disinformation. From the complexities of data centers, from data lakes through to analyst and data scientist, there is a big story waiting to be unravelled. It just needs to be told.