On February 1, 2017, A2K4D hosted an open panel discussion titled "Data, Innovation and our Environment – Current Experiences and Imagined Futures" in Oriental Hall at AUC Tahrir Square.
The panel brought together experts from the transport, energy and development sectors to critically discuss data-driven innovation in the region. Panelists included Raed Sharif, senior program officer of technology and innovation, at the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Hossam Abdel Gawad director of SETS North Africa and Ahmed Zahran, CEO of KarmSolar. The panel was moderated by A2K4D researcher Nancy Salem.
The panel raised questions of how, in the current context of the region, we see innovation with data evolving, particularly in moving towards sustainable and open cities. The open discussion drew on audience experiences from those working in data, and the energy and transport sectors to discuss current trends and how data can specifically be of use to them. The discussion shed light on challenges faced with regards to data availability, and offered the opportunity to calibrate future work and pool resources towards innovation, while success stories set much needed precedence and inspired further innovation.
Sharif compared data, originally compared to the new oil of the decade, to the new ‘pipes’ serving as infrastructure and support to development projects, as well as the private and public spheres. Abdel Gawad added that advances in technology and data-rich communication, has helped to make data more abundant and available. Panelists agreed that data is in a unique position to help with the planning and sustainable development of both the energy and transport sectors, which have increasingly become intertwined