Recent global health crises have made it imperative to understand disease transmission and economic vulnerability in our increasingly interconnected world. At the same time, new technologies have exponentially raised the volume and complexity of digital data resulting from everyday consumer transactions, physical movement, communication, and healthcare. The emerging field of data science is the key to organizing these mountains of data and transforming them into the knowledge needed to devise rapid and effective responses to epidemics and the disruptions they bring to developing economies and global supply chains. Through novel systems of data capture, data sharing and machine learning, we can more rapidly identify vectors of disease transmission, accelerate drug and vaccine development, and improve access to appropriate care.
Dr. Uyi Stewart is Chief Data and Technology Officer at Data.org, a nonprofit organization that seeks to democratize and reimagine the use of data to tackle society’s greatest challenges and improve lives across the globe. Dr. Stewart previously served as Director of Strategy, Data and Analytics in Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He was co-founder and chief scientist at IBM Research—Africa, where he pioneered the use of big data to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and the use of ML/AI solutions to address societal challenges across the African continent.