It’s no secret that in these times we experience an unprecedented level of interconnectedness. This shapes our daily interactions with others and also how we perceive the world around us.

The impact of communication and the internet on society is a massive topic– one I am not silly enough to try and tackle all in one blog post. So let me break it down for you over the rest of the month.

This week, I’ll be zooming waaaaay out and talking about big data and global development. This might seem like a bit of a stretch for a personal and professional coach, but it really isn’t.

Technology has shrunk the world right down to the point where we are sometimes more connected to people across the province, country or world than we are our own community. The separation/closeness dichotomy is challenging our personal and workplace norms and redefining our place in the world–all of this impacts workplace dynamics, stress levels and even personal aspirations.

The history of today – which is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, reflects that fact. In 2006, the International Telecommunication Union (part of the United Nations) decided to mash together World Telecommunication Day (established in 1865) with World Information Society Day. The main goal is to “raise global awareness of societal changes brought about by the Internet and new technologies. It also aims to help reduce the digital divide.”

The theme for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2017 is  “Big Data for Big Impact.”

WHOA – that was a lot of big words to process.

Bottom line – today is a day the UN set aside to talk about how to harness all of the power contained in the plethora of information running wild and free. And how to use that data to create a more informed and sustainable world for everyone.

Part of this work includes discussions around how personal data is used, how to ensure privacy and security and how to use this information to create, innovate and improve. While this is all pretty big picture stuff, it is relevant to you and me–to everyone.


Well, this information can be used to create information platforms for the average person to use for making informed personal decisions.

For example, this interactive infographic about the relative effectiveness of various supplements for different conditions. This data is taken from thousands of scientific studies and presented in a usable way. Instead of spending hours Googling and skimming through forums, you can make informed personal health decisions in mere seconds.

The flip side of all of this, of course, is that in order to compile enough data for some of these big decisions or policy changes, number crunchers require access to data–your data. It is mind blowing how much information the average person shares in a single day without even knowing it. If our relationship with big data was a Facebook relationship status, it would be “complicated.”

Every Facebook like or share, every Google search and every email results in information about our likes, dislikes, preferences and internet activity is sent out into the ethers. From this, data hunter-gatherers can compile stats on everything from what cereal we like to more complicated things like our religious and political beliefs.

So what does this mean for you?

The answer to that really depends on the scale of your perspective. On a personal level, it means having an awareness of what kind of digital profile is being created through your activity.  Professionally or as a business owner you may have the opportunity to become an innovator and partner by sharing private data with the public sector to by granting access to data and technology tools to the public sector (securely of course). This will facilitate the use of data science for sustainable development in an emerging area dubbed data philanthropy.  

This type of philanthropy is relatively low-risk, easy to do and can be done at little to no cost for your business. The best part? You get to feel good about being part of something big and your business gets recognized as an innovative leader.

Globally, analysts can collect information from social media posts  to find out what issues people care about and focus policy efforts accordingly or to predict the spread of a disease outbreak in real time. All of this results in more inclusive and responsive policies through the use of data to anticipate program needs and shift from reactionary to proactive models.

All of these big picture, big data ideas, innovations and initiatives originate from a singular source. Sometimes we need to step away from the computer to realize how connected we all are and how a single source of data (you) can have a meaningful impact on our collective experience.

With that, I encourage you to explore some of these ideas and think about your place in the big picture.


I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in stress management, health and wellness, personal growth and life balance. Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!

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