2022 Data trends and the Government-Private Cooperation Pipeline
Laura C. Fields, like all readers, has a well-rounded base of knowledge. However, her passion projects often involve learning and discovering more effective methods to improve the education process.
Regarding the data from Essayexaminer, it is clear that the pandemic, the government response, and the private sector are creating benefits and losses across the world. Students and the education sector have been severely affected, and most of the changes have been somewhat negative.
What is the role of government in society? Should it regulate everything, should it leave the private sector alone, or should a mixed model be adopted? Such debates have been raging since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and no end is in sight.
What is different in our age is the appearance of the online landscape. It is arguable that since the invention of the steam and internal combustion engines, no innovation has altered the landscape of human civilization more than the World Wide Web.
It all started pretty innocently: an attempt to connect computers and have them talk to each other. Nowadays, that basic premise has given birth to a planet-spanning ocean of digital information. Incomprehensible amounts of data are flowing every second.
And, the harvesting, reading, and interpreting of that data have become a gold mine.
The Public-Private distinction is ambiguous
In the past, political regimes tended towards the extremes. You either had people who wanted complete government control, while others were more individualistic and libertarian-minded.
Nowadays, the situation is a little different.
Private interest and government power regarding data and social trends are on the same side. Governments across the world do not have dedicated IT departments. Contracts are awarded to private companies, basically making them the executive arm of the state.
And this situation is both beneficial and disadvantageous. On one hand, there is clear and profitable cooperation between the two sectors. More gets done, and it is healthy for private companies to analyze data trends and compete for contracts.
But this can also breed corruption, as many in the public sector award favor in exchange for jobs and benefits once their terms are up. Regardless, given the digital revolution and the direction of society, both polarities must work together.
The slow implementation of Smart Cities
First, what’s a Smart City?
In essence, a smart city is a municipality that fully integrates and digitalizes its features. In the ideal smart city, everything from household appliances to trash collection, the energy grid, and traffic control will be hooked to the web and made more efficient.
A simple exercise should work: every time you see the word “Smart”, replace it with “Online”, or “Connected”.
In a smart city, everything can talk to everything else. The synergy that will result from such communication is hard to overstate. Everything will be more efficient and cleaner.
For example, if traffic data is handled by a complex network of computers, the traffic situation will improve. Less congested streets allow people to spend less time waiting at stop signs.
Overall driving time will decrease, leading to each person saving more time and fuel money. As a side benefit, the air quality will also improve due to the decreased traffic stops.
In terms of trash collection, the current model involves a pre-set collection schedule. Smart cities will get real-time feedback regarding the trash buildup, allowing collection agencies to respond to real-time, active needs.
In general, gaining the ability to see real-time feedback and data is priceless. Currently, most authorities are going in blind. They see trends on a monthly or quarterly basis.
It can take months for city hall to get feedback, vote, and implement a solution. This can be slow and frustrating for other citizens.
Smart cities promise to end that slow, latent, government response.
What is the role of government in society? Should it leave the private sector alone, or should a mixed model be adopted?
There is an idea in philosophy and political thinking, called “the tragedy of the commons’ ‘. Basically, it states that people tend not to take care of a property that they do not own. That is why public bathrooms are so disgusting, and that is why so many places in the world have littering problems.
Of course, there are a few exceptions in societies such as Japan, where the civic spirit is enormously strong.
This is why the government is usually very inefficient and wasteful; they are spending other people’s money. So you can’t rely on public services to found and run their own IT departments.
Data collection and optimization in the education sector must be a privately-sourced effort. The last 2 years were a gold mine in terms of education info. Even though it is counter-intuitive, schools and colleges were old-school and low-tech in their approach.
Only when the pandemic hit were learning institutions forced to adopt and implement technology. Lucky for everyone, tech was already in place to allow teachers to hold online classes.
The data gathered was interesting. It seems that online education is highly suboptimal. The results are horrible, shattering the dreams of futurists who envisioned( and hope for), a high-tech smart classroom.
It seems that the teacher-student dynamic is here to stay, and no amount of tech can replace it. But still, it is tech that delivered this data. Without it, we wouldn’t know the bird’s eye view of the situation.
Data on the government itself
A healthy and fair society will always be based on transparency. Citizens have the right not only to decide who rules over them, but they should also be able to check and see if those people are doing their job.
In the future, governments can implement databases that contain every piece of relevant information. Citizens should be able to verify where their tax money is heading, and how their elected officials are spending their time.
A dark side to everything
There are examples of an attempt to centralize data, and use it against citizens. There have been escalating concerns regarding a social credit system, and what consequences it may bring.
Also, certain private companies are famous for attempting to harvest data and trick people into consenting. They make you agree and accept by clicking a vast Term and Conditions declaration, which you need a lawyer and an IT specialist by your side to understand.
Should the Internet be like the Wild West, or should it be regulated and controlled? Can a government go too far, in hopes of protecting people from bad actors online? Is online censorship ok, and if so, how much?
Finally, there should be a discussion about the profitability of the Web. Juggernauts like Google offer free stuff because you are the product. They collect your data, and either store it or sell it.
If the government stops them from getting any data, the company won’t make any money. This will also end the benefits and innovations of having Google around.
Yet, they have been known to go overboard and even spy on children. Obviously, a balance must be reached. Let’s remember that this is new tech, nobody grew up with it. There will be some growing pains.
Overall, the government needs to be vigilant in 2022 and onward. It needs to guard citizens against abuses from itself, and private sector actors.
For a long time, the internet and digital tech were seen as something separate. A niche interest that was divorced from the more concrete realities of life. But nowadays, the trajectory is evident: data and its collection and use are as important as the petroleum trade.
Governments are responsible for the use, protection, and outsourcing of this digital work. They must utilize the resources at their disposal to improve the infrastructure and make energy consumption more efficient.
Also, legislators must understand that there are a few problems that you can’t digitize, i.e. learning.