Journal Article
Data deprivations, data gaps and digital divides

Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

This study draws lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for the relationship between data-driven decision making and global development. The lessons are that:

(i) users should keep in mind the shifting value of data during a crisis, and the pitfalls its use can create;

(ii) predictions carry costs in terms of inertia, overreaction and herding behaviour;

(iii) data can be devalued by digital and data deluges;

(iv) lack of interoperability and difficulty reusing data will limit value from data;

(v) data deprivation, digital gaps and digital divides are not just a by-product of unequal global development, but will magnify the unequal impacts of a global crisis, and will be magnified in turn by global crises;

(vi) having more data and even better data analytical techniques, such as artificial intelligence, does not guarantee that development outcomes will improve;

(vii) decentralised data-gathering and use can help to build trust — particularly important for coordination of behaviour.

Journal Article This peer-reviewed research is available free of charge. UNU-WIDER believes that research is a global public good and supports Open Access.