Monday May 23, 2022

‘Pakistan needs to be aware of how big data can help national security’

May 14, 2022

Islamabad : Dr. Hussain Nadim, Executive Director (C&R), Islamabad Policy Research Institute, has said that compared to 30 years ago now we have the data but not the ability to process it.

Dr. Nadim was speaking at a Webinar on ‘Big data for national security: a case of Pakistan’ organised here by the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS).

Big data refers to a collection of data that is enormous and comes at you with great speed.

Dr. Nadim talked about how data can be used to decipher patterns of suicide bombing and identify what people are at risk of radicalisation. He said that there are over 40 million social media users alone in Pakistan and are projected to have 80 million social media users in the coming years. These people are creating narratives as opposed to the state.

He said that the information warfare domain has become more complicated. There may be billions of users tweeting in India or elsewhere about Pakistan. Information warfare is not new but what has changed is the speed of data.

The huge data available can be used to map the behaviour of a nation, leaders, and individuals. It can also be misused. State institutions are fighting fifth-generation warfare with 3rd generation tools. Pakistan needs to invest in managing and regulating big data, he concluded.

Dr. Muhammad Ali Ismail, Principle Investigator, National Centre of Big Data & Cloud Computing, Karachi, said that his centre’s objective was to provide a platform for the development and deployment of cutting-edge solutions related to big data using open source tools. He said that the centre is working on astrophysics, genomics, tsunami modelling, and traffic modelling.

Aamna Rafiq from ISS said that Pakistan is facing major challenges on insufficient and fragmented legislative, policy, and technical frameworks on the big data. The national data ecosystem is suffering due to the absence of effective institutional and technical coordination on data partnerships between the government and other relevant stakeholders.

Khalid Mahmood, Chairperson, BoG, ISS, stated that so far data has been kept in physical form but now it is stored and used in virtual space. This is helping in many fields like national security, health, education, and industry. However, there is potential for its misuse. There is a need to manage, eliminate and regulate the malicious use of data in Pakistan and at the international level.

Earlier, in his welcome remarks, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director-General ISS, said that big data needs to be managed and analysed for it to be useful. This data explosion is touching every aspect of life human security, finance, banking, and agricultural sector, and is also playing a big part in the technological race between the US and China. Pakistan needs to be aware of how big data can help or undermine our national security.