The challenges of making data-driven decisions in Puerto Rico in times of crisis – The Sociable

Puerto Rico has been in the grips of a financial crisis for over a decade, during which it has experienced a series of crippling natural disasters, and will now face particular economic challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by ABEXUS Analytics.

Having been tested to its limits during Hurricane Maria in 2017, and struck by a string of high-magnitude earthquakes at the end of last year and at the beginning of 2020, the island is not in a good financial position to deal with COVID-19 and its consequences.

Eduardo Burgos-Suazo
Eduardo Burgos-Suazo

“Information is the key antidote to uncertainty, but such information must be widespread, accessible and contextualized”

For this reason, Eduardo Burgos-Suazo, Chief Operating Officer of ABEXUS Analytics — the Puerto Rican startup using AI and machine learning to find trends in data, which was part of the Parallel 18 acceleration program — believes that basing government decisions on data is more important than ever.

But, he says, his territory has had a problem with relying on statistics and data to make decisions.

Data not a priority

“It’s been a problem for at least 30 years in Puerto Rico,” Burgos-Suazo told The Sociable.

“It’s not that we don’t have the mechanisms to gather data, just that when it comes to making decisions, data is not a priority,” he added, explaining that the information sources do exist, but they are just not centralized.

Instead, Burgos-Suazo explained, Puerto Rico’s decision-making strategy is largely based on subject matter and intuition rather than data.

Despite each crisis situation being different, a lack of scientific data-driven structure behind the government’s response to crises such as Hurricane Maria and the
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