UN CITO Atefeh Riazi discussed how tech can assistance with some of a world’s many formidable problems during an eventuality in Seattle. (Photos by Gregory Scruggs)
To hear a United Nations Chief Information Technology Officer tell it, a universe is a frightful place. 1.2 million people are replaced in South Sudan. 27,000 Royhinga Muslims are journey lethal mistreat in Myanmar. 85 people possess 70 percent of a world’s wealth. In 2025, two-thirds of a universe competence face H2O shortages. 20 million people annually are victims of tellurian trafficking — 80 percent of those are women, and 30 percent are children. On a dim web, we can buy a child for $300.
These extraordinary statistics, done all a some-more accurate by strong data-tracking measures, are partial of a daily U.N. operations predicament news that lands on Atefeh Riazi’s table — or inscription — each day. Her pursuit is to strap a energy of record and creation within a lurching bureaucracy of a large tellurian physique secure in tactful paperwork in sequence to try and solve some of those challenges.
“Technologists have such extensive power, though we don’t advocate,” she told an assembly of several hundred final week during Seattle Pacific University. Riazi was in city for a multi-day outing to revisit Seattle tech movers and shakers, arch among them Tableau. In late March, a U.N. and a Fremont-based visible analytics organisation sealed an agreement to make Tableau program a tellurian customary for information cognisance during a general organization.
Tableau’s bravery in information for growth perceived tellurian commend final year for a partnership with Seattle tellurian health hulk PATH to tackle malaria in Zambia by a devise called Visualize No Malaria.
“We have a lot of data, though we can’t make good clarity of it,” Riazi told GeekWire during Tableau domicile final week. “The cognisance square is unequivocally critical. Through information analysis, we can change from predicament response to predicament prediction.”
Getting forward of a world’s problems with a assistance of record has been one of Riazi’s arch priorities in a 5 years she has been in assign of IT for a $8 billion general body, headquartered in New York and with offices around a world. Riazi, an Iran-born U.S. national, came to a U.N. from stints as CIO during promotion organisation Ogilvy Mather and a New York City Housing Authority.
“What would be a value of meaningful about Ebola dual to 3 months beforehand?” she asked a Seattle Pacific University crowd. Or, she added, a fast in Yemen or a Arab Spring.
Riazi hopes a Tableau partnership will be partial of changeable from predicament mode to proactive, something she already sees seeds of in other U.N.-backed record partnerships, like deploying remote health in Rwanda, where drones broach medical supplies. That creation is partial of a country’s multiyear eHealth strategy, prepared with support from a World Health Organization. Such efforts, Riazi said, are a approach for Rwanda to recompense for carrying only 0.06 doctors per 1,000 residents as compared 2.7 in a U.S.
While Razi shares technologists’ faith in networks, hardware, program and a Internet, she is also responsive of a digital order that competence seem unfamiliar to those operative with Gigabit connectors from their station desks. In Burma, unapproved possession of a modem can land someone in jail for 15 years. Human rights groups credit a Syrian regime of imprisoning people for expressing adverse views of a supervision online.
“The Internet has brought extensive wealth to some, though not to all,” Riazi warned.
Even as West Coast tech hubs beget billions in increase with products for abundant consumers, a U.N.’s tip techie hopes to introduce a change in mindset. “For a prolonged time, a notice from a private zone has been that we can't make income when we concentration on amicable issues, and we remonstrate with that,” she said.
To her mind, elucidate poverty, hunger, and illness can, in turn, emanate destiny consumers. “There’s income to be done in addressing amicable issues and we’re going to see an blast of creation from a tech zone on those issues,” she said.
But first, she believes that tech companies need to take tenure for their possess prolongation footprint, citing an abominable miss of shortcoming around e-waste, whose impacts she has seen firsthand as child laborers collect detached poisonous components in China and India.
“We are saying unintended consequences of creation and modernization,” she said. “How do we vitalise a universe to possess a unintended consequences?” She cited a mindset prevalent in a tech zone that such issues are “somebody else’s problem” that a U.N. or inhabitant governments contingency bargain with, for example, by entrance adult with a recycling devise for e-waste or medical waste.
Riazi voiced beating that a tech attention is not entirely invested in a supposed round economy, that sees a life cycle for products over use-and-dispose. “The volume of e-waste is augmenting exponentially and a tech zone has no devise around a round economy and rather continues to pull for serve expenditure and designed age out of a equipment,” she said.
“Responsible creation means we should do no harm,” she said.
“Ultimately I’m an optimist. People can solve a large problems regulating record and innovation,” she concluded. “I truly trust that these issues can be addressed by obliged innovation, though my bargain is pessimistic.”