Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What Does a “Data Revolution” Look Like?

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October 30, 2013

Read Saara and Chris’s first post on data here.

The call for a data revolution can be answered by many, from National Statistical Offices to social engagement platforms like the ONE Factivist campaign. A data revolution must be relevant to many groups and incorporate a range of perspectives, and it must meet the needs of country decision makers, international organizations, the private sector, civil society, international organizations and others. But just as importantly, it must be focused on producing measurable benefits to data production systems and data users, through a sustainable process of increased coordination and improvement.

 The main objective of a development Data Revolution is to improve almost everything about data. The way data is produced, accessed, analyzed and utilized in decision-making.While we recognize the need for an open and exploratory dialogue, the broad range of interest groups and  numerous discrete conversations highlight the need for a rationalized and coordinated campaign style approach to achieving an evidence-based, well-designed, broadly supported plan for moving forward.

For this reason, the Foundation teams are working with PARIS21 (The Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century), the World Bank, Department for International Development (DFID), ONE and others to organize the development data community to work together on responding to the call for a Data Revolution.  

The goal is to build a coordinated program to prioritize key data gaps, identify the underlying causes of these gaps, and develop solutions. We must also collate a unified set of recommendations to build and maintain political and financial support to improve development data. With the help of our partners, these efforts can contribute to the creation of a cohesive Development Data Global Action Plan for post-2015.    

At the hugest level, this plan must enable increased coordination across local, national and global levels along with data users, producers, funders, national statistics offices and private sector data providers. 

And while it is clear that any plan must leverage improved technologies and new data sources, it is also necessary to recognize the need for capacity building, methodological improvements, and rationalizing institutions and incentives that remain core to the data revolution. 

The main objective of a development data revolution is to improve almost everything about data. The way data is produced, accessed, analyzed and utilized in decision-making. The steps to move the revolution forward include:

  • Building on current analytical and advocacy activities to support development and implementation of a Data Revolution roadmap within the Post-2015 Development Framework.
  • Contributing to the communities’ understanding of data systems, including: 
    1. Organization & players of data production systems
    2. Characterization/quantification & prioritization of critical data gaps
    3. Identification of underlying causes of data gaps
    4. Design of solutions for bridging these gaps
  • Building a Global Partnership for Development Data to jointly coordinate Data Revolution planning, advocacy, financing and activities across the broader data community.

 We encourage you to join the conversation by commenting on this blog or tweeting to us. Share your experiences where data has had real impact on decision making, policy change, program design, or other important aspects of your organization or your work.Ultimately better, faster and cheaper data will lay the foundations for increased accountability, informed decisions, and better policies.

We will be writing regularly about our work, like the above projects, along with hosting a series of guest posts to share a diversity of voices on data as a topic.  

We encourage you to join the conversation by commenting on this blog or tweeting to us: @ChrisJGingerich @SaaraRomu. Share your experiences where data has had real impact on decision making, policy change, program design, or other important aspects of your organization or your work. 

Behind every movement that makes lasting change, there is a good mix of change makers, including those who track progress towards the goal. Data geeks are essential to the process.

Fortunately, we have two optimistic Data Geeks on our side. 

 
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