At a very colorful ceremony on Saturday 21st September, 2019 a total of one hundredA and forty nine Road Safety Corps graduated after an intensive eight weeks training involving physical and mental exercises. A total of nineteen women were among the grandaunts. It could be recalled that Sierra Leone just took a giant technological leap. Scientists working at a new agency for innovation launched within the Office of the President are using code to fight corruption. Only 3 out of every 100 citizens in Sierra Leone have access to the internet according to 2016 data f r o m t h e I n t e r n a t i o n a l Telecommunications Union. Although internet access is limited, scientists say one of their ultimate goals is to develop the world’s first government quantum network for data encryption. The first challenge that scientists at the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) took on involved the government’s fleet of vehicles. In March 2018, a new Making the SLRSA Technologically Viable government was elected into office. During the transition period, an estimated 4000 cars were reportedly missing. The President asked scientists at DSTI to solve the problem of the missing vehicles. The team analyzed data from the Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) and found that 38 vehicles belonging to the government were re-registered to n e w o w n e r s w i t h o u t authorization. While the majority of these illegal transfers were intragovernment, 17 high-end cars were transferred for private and for commercial use. They also discovered that 75% of all such transactions both authorized and unauthorized occurred in the three years leading up to the 2018 elections. The SLRSA has a register of 281, 762 vehicles of which 4,694 belong to the government spanning the last ten years. Despite having all this big data, SLRSA did not have the tools for analysis. To explore exciting questions and develop hypotheses, like what could have happened to 4000 vehicles it requires more big data analytics. Analysis of big data (big data involves large volumes of datasets that generally need complex analyses) goes beyond the capacity of Excel and summary statistics. Using the existing SLRSA data, the data scientists’ code found that there was a 600% increase in authorized transfers from 2014 to 2015. Moreover, an additional 560 vehicles changed ownership in the two years before the 2018 elections. These discoveries have been sent to the Anti Corruption Commission to determine what to do next. While the Anti Corruption boss Mr. Francis Ben Kaifala says it is too soon to know what they will do once they have an opportunity to evaluate the SLRSA vehicle data further, DSTI’s work has given his investigators a leg up. “With data like this we know what to request from the target institutions or persons, and with whom to speak,” said Mr. Ben Kaifala. Data means quicker turnaround on investigations. The Anti Corruption Commission now knows the names of individuals both within and outside of the government who have transferred government vehicles.
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