China Focus: China taps potential of big data while harnessing their risks

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-28 16:49:32|Editor: Li Xia
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GUIYANG, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Zou Li, the head of a school canteen in a mountainous region, used to have to sift through piles of paperwork to track the school's food sources, now she can check with just a click of her mouse.

"Today, we serve dishes made from ingredients such as pork, green pepper, lettuce, and white gourd," said Zou. "We store the data of the ingredients in an online platform, and they are readily available when we need to track their sources."

The platform, established by authorities in the city of Tongren in southwest China's Guizhou Province, is designed to monitor the entire process of preparing school meals from production, delivery to cooking, to ensure food safety.

The platform stores information from 588 food producers and benefits more than 400,000 students from 3,070 schools and kindergartens in the region.

"With data in hand, the safety of food and medicine can be ensured," said Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, adding that the internet and big data technology can significantly enhance the efficiency of supervision and hold producers of problematic food products accountable.

Tracking food production is just one of the applications of big data used by Chinese authorities and industry participants, who have embraced the technology to tap its full potential in making people's lives better.

Senior Chinese officials have called for accelerated efforts to build the country's strength in data analysis, which could be utilized to improve governance, alleviate poverty, benefit society and people, and advance the development of the global digital economy.

Such endeavors are on display at the ongoing big data industry expo held in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou, where members of the public can learn about the latest innovations as technology and industry insiders debate how to better advance technology while minimizing its potential risks.

Digitalization is a road that should not be bypassed and is beneficial for both a country's industrialization process and the development of a city or a majority of government departments and agencies, said Gao Wen, a professor with Peking University, at the expo.

China has also expressed its willingness to work with other countries to share development opportunities and jointly boost the big data sector in the face of rising unilateralism and trade protectionism.

A total of 448 enterprises from 59 countries and regions attend this year's expo. Among them are more than 150 foreign companies, including 39 Fortune 500 firms.

"At the expo, we have a first-hand experience of the development of China's big data sector," said Francesco Simondi, an executive with Italian data firm Aruba. "We look forward to forming a partnership with local Chinese enterprises."

While promoting the development of the big data industry, China is fully aware that violations of data protection could pose a big risk to cybersecurity and endanger people's privacy.

China has strengthened the protection of users' information with measures such as tackling online security risks and reviewing privacy-related clauses of online products and services, said Zhao Zhiguo, director of the cybersecurity bureau of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

In the world of the digital economy, the flow of data is very fast and often not confined in a single app, service product or an organization, said Du Yuejin, vice president of China's tech giant Alibaba Group.

"Addressing data security requires the concerted efforts from the government and all the industry participants," Du said.