Precision Global Development

Hint: look to Precision Medicine as a model for progress.

pexels-photo-131017For years, the medical profession treated all patients as if they were the same. If someone presented with a certain array of symptoms, they would receive an established treatment.

But as medical technologies have improved, particularly around molecular diagnostics, so have the opportunities to customize treatments to the individual. Precision Medicine is revolutionizing medical practice by employing technologies to provide patient-specific interventions.

Similarly, global development programs historically have treated all members of a community the same. In recent years, however, a number of countries are building registries of all citizens in poverty, and working to design individualized assistance programs. The leader in this effort is China, with their dibao program aiming to eliminate poverty by 2020. Other countries, such as Mexico and the Philippines, employ smaller efforts. As poverty decreases, the requirement for customized efforts increases, since many of the last are mentally or physically disabled. The programs also suffer from technical challenges due to limited bandwidth and multiple databases.

But now, with the increasing arrival of broadband and improved data management systems, it is easier to tailor assistance to the individual (or to put it a bit coarsely, development becomes less of a delivery problem and more of a data problem). Precision Global Development is revolutionizing international development programs by allowing custom programs, but also by allowing individuals more opportunities to tailor their own assistance (an extreme example being through unconditional cash transfers). Precision Global Development is just one of many implications of Broadband Everywhere.

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