Data aware approach of planning and development is possible only when we can capture data, manage them efficiently and use them as evidence of actual development in the grass-roots.
We can argue about what is the correct policy for development to follow – pundits of all sorts are busy doing that. While that is very important and should be continued, the validation that these policies are working can only be possible if we can collect grass-roots level evidences. With modern information technology it is possible to create a data aware environment at the grass roots where people can collect, manage and analyze micro socio-economic data to better understand the development scenario.
The data aware approach is schematically shown in the figure to the right. Individual communities collect, manage and analyze data and optionally provide feedback (the up word arrows) to the planning and deployment organizations at the district, state, national or international (when applicable) levels. Note, in general, multiple communities can participate, each with region specific data. As the data and feedback is moved up to the planning bodies they are collated, merged and aggregated to relevant planning topics.
The communities at the grass roots own and manage the data. They collect the data via family surveys or from data agencies. We assume that the necessary knowledge/skills required to use relevant technology (surveying techniques, mobile devices, database usage etc. ) must be locally available. This can be implemented through special programs that can be part of school or college curricula in information technology.
The data dissemination up ward is implemented via the Internet and cloud technology. In India, there is a eGovernment effort for covering national, state and district level decision making. We plan to integrate the data aware system to provide relevant feedback and data from the communities.