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Cross-Pollination and Digitalization of Public Sector Data: Opportunities and Challenges

To end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030, many stakeholders have begun understanding the value of data-led decision-making to achieve a circular economic model. While the private sector has outpaced the public sector in transforming its business model by capitalizing on the extensive value of data, governments have only recently begun to realize data’s true potential as a catalyst to promote the general welfare and economic growth. To this end, the IADB hired TIV to author a paper that will aid governments in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in embracing the opportunities public sector data utilization and AI deployment can provide in achieving a circular economic model and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The paper provides an overview of the data ecosystem and governments' main challenges when leveraging data. To circumvent and alleviate the challenges of the traditionally fragmented public sector data, the paper provides a novel concept of sharing data between key players that TIV has dubbed as data cross-pollination. TIV’s experts have defined the concept as the process of exposing government actors to new ways of thinking by sharing knowledge, thus allowing them to make better decisions, provide better services, and design better policies. However, the concept does not exist in a vacuum and is supplemented by open data and data philanthropy.

Drawing on this data cross-pollination, the paper considers four SDGs, i.e., energy, sustainable food systems, reducing pollution, and smart cities, that could benefit from using and reusing data for data cross-pollination. Building on case studies and initiatives stemming from these four SDGs, the paper highlights the main challenges and opportunities of utilizing data to achieve a circular economic model and sustainable development. For example, TIV’s experts explored the data landscape in the energy sector (SDG 7) and how these data can be cross-pollinated with healthcare (SDG 3), agriculture and food security (SDG 2), and what opportunities and challenges may lie ahead. Furthermore, the paper explores how data from the four SDGs can be pollinated with AI to enable countries in LAC to shift to a circular economic model. Challenges of deploying AI were explored, in addition to good practices to facilitate data sharing within the public sector, thus enabling circular innovation.

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