Big data was touted as the answer to poverty and sexism at the Web Summit show in Dublin on Tuesday.
Jamie Drummond, executive director at campaign group One, took to the main stage to explain how a dearth of data is making it even harder to solve the poverty crisis.
"There is extreme poverty in data. Living in a world of extreme data, it's hard to register that in the world a third of births are not registered; and two-thirds of deaths and the cause of death in this world today are not registered," he told delegates.
"We don't know where people are born, what their gender is, where they live, where they die; and what they're dying from. Eighty percent of data points are missing.
"We've working on data that is decades out of date. This means the interpolations and assumptions we make are based on some fairly shoddy data sets. It's very hard to be certain of our progress and if it's really working."
Drummond explained that much of the problem lies with the people in charge of villages across Africa, who are not doing a good enough job of collecting data and sharing that information.
"The village executive director is not very good at his job. His job is to collect data on his village and disseminate it so local budgets can be held accountable. But the data is on the flipside of a peeling poster," he said.
"We know that the poverty of data starts here. We talk about PDFs being where data goes to die. In development it's these peeling posters where data goes to die, and it's killing Eva's future. We have to solve this data crisis."
The Eva Drummond referred to is Eva Tolange, a young African girl who lives in the Mlowa district in remote rural Tanzania, pictured below.
Tolange recently wrote a letter to world leaders, asking them to do more to fight the hunger crisis. US president Barack Obama read out her letter when announcing last month that he and other world leaders had agreed the Global Goals, to end poverty and tackle injustice, inequality and climate change.
But One also wants to target sexism in data and poverty. "We know that poverty is sexist. It is women and girls who are the worst hit by poverty. But it's always them that are the best investments," he said.
"If we deliver to women, we know women and girls deliver. But women and girls get the least access to mobile phones and connectivity. This is the sexist data crisis."
Drummond called on Web Summit delegates and the tech community to join the effort to equip women and girls in poor countries with the devices and connections so they can get online and share the required data.
"We need to arm these gender data revolutionaries," he urged. "We're fostering a data revolution around the world to fill in these data gaps."
Drummond cited how the organisation is working towards its goals, for example giving females in poor areas free airtime in return for filling in surveys to collect the data sets.
However, data gathered by Capgemini has revealed that Web Summit itself has something of a sexist crisis to solve. The consultancy firm crunched the stats and revealed that only 18 percent of speakers at this year's event are women. This was certainly reflected in V3's experience at the show, where across the three panels we moderated, 10 out of 10 panellists were male.
However, Web Summit is acutely aware of this gender imbalance and is attempting to solve this gap by offering free tickets to women for next year's shows.
"Over the past number of years I've been acutely aware that female participation in the tech sector has been and continues to be a significant issue," said Web Summit's Sinead Murphy in an email sent to attendees.
"Today, we're going to try and play a small part in changing that. As part of an initiative we're running to even the gender ratio at our events, we're giving 10,000 complimentary tickets to our events to women in the tech industry across the world - we hope that it will, in some small way, contribute to solving the problem."
Web Summit is giving away 10,000 free tickets for "extraordinary female entrepreneurs" and is inviting delegates at this year's event to nominate a worthy candidate.
"Is this enough? Absolutely not," Murphy acknowledged. "Is this a significant step for Web Summit? Yes, for sure. But let's be realistic, it's a tiny step in the right direction along a path that the tech industry as a whole needs to move down."
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