Günther Niederreiter
2. September 2014 0

Exploiting the opportunities offered by digitization

The Digital Agenda is finally here. Critics say that it has come too late and is not concrete enough. Maybe so. But the fact is that digitization, big data and cloud computing are already part of our daily routine, both in business and in private life, thus making it politically relevant. This is reflected in the basic idea behind the Digital Agenda in Germany: Digitization and big data can deliver benefits to all of us, but only if there is sufficient awareness of the need for data protection and safeguarding the privacy of every individual.

In any case, the Digital Agenda has already achieved one thing: People are now discussing the ethics and values that should apply to the digital world and how this digital transformation can be coordinated and shaped through jont effort. This in itself is already a sign of success, in my opinion. Of course, in terms of the economy, a lot of work still needs to be done, but from the social perspective this discussion is essential. The Digital Agenda provides rules that are universally binding when it comes to how we should use the digital medium in general.

Big data is a legitimate economic factor

More important, in my view, is the statement repeated by Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière in his article for the FAZ: ” … Big data” analyses offer social and economic potential and opportunities, for example, in connected mobility, in healthcare, in environmental protection and in education.” This is a key point. “We should not refrain from using linked data,” he says. The minister thus recognizes that big data is relevant to social and economic progress and development, paired with higher security for data and personal privacy.
Big data and data privacy have always been top priorities in enterprises like T-Systems. You can’t have one without the other. Thanks to the Digital Agenda, big data solutions such as Hadoop as a Service from T-Systems are no longer seen as purely niche technologies for data storage and analysis. Solutions that help optimize local traffic and transport, or that coordinate the work of rescue teams, can be evaluated in terms of their benefits and effectiveness. And that also applies to data protection.

Getting well faster

As terrible and tragic as it may be, the current epidemic in Western Africa is an example that shows how big data could deliver social and economic benefits along with new opportunities. For example, if data about the course of the disease could be gathered and analyzed anonymously, its impact could be lessened and the spread of the disease stopped much more effectively than is currently possible. Another good example is influenza. If medications and vaccines could be produced and delivered well in advance of the so-called “flu season” that affects entire regions every year, fewer people would become ill, and those few who do would regain their health much quicker. There is no doubt that this would have a wide-ranging economic impact.
This aspect is also included in the Digital Agenda: “The federal government intends to … support new services and leverage potential for healthcare.”

This requires a high-quality infrastructure

The Digital Agenda also addresses the following: “The consequent realization of networks will enable better medical diagnosis and treatment. Thus, in the future, telemedicine will support first-class healthcare throughout Germany, especially in rural areas.”
There is no doubt about that. However, the prerequisites to achieve this include a high-quality infrastructure offering access to everyone, an analysis engine like Hana or Hadoop, which complies with all security standards and – above all – social acceptance of the system employed and trust in the service providers. Earning this trust must be the goal of every individual who handles confidential data.

Let’s big communicate
Günther Niederreiter

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