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Data Landscape: addressing systemic challenges

The consultation has ended and comments are closed.

In the previous three sections, we have examined the data revolution sub-themes of improving access, robustness and utility of data, rethinking how we monitor progress and looking to new and emerging technologies and sources of data.

In this section we welcome input on how those pieces fit together, to comprehensively build an inventory of what is currently recorded, where the gaps are, and what would need to happen to make system-wide improvements.

linked open data sourcesThere remain issues in delivering timely, robust statistics especially from poor countries and ‘getting the basics right’ will remain important over the next decade. If national governments and international organisations are to improve statistics and other data points, and harness new sources of information then we need a roadmap detailing the situation as it stands and what would be needed to raise standards across the board.

We welcome input on the following questions:

  • Is the current national and international architecture and level of resourcing for data collection and use adequate for the task at hand?  If not, what should be the priorities and levers for change at the different levels?
  • What are the priority actions in the first 1-2 years following the agreement of new goals that can set the right course for long-term improvements and innovations in data collection and use by governments and citizens?

The Independent expert advisory group, working with others, is engaged in mapping the data revolution landscape and welcomes contributions on the following:

  1. a ‘map’ of the data landscape including major producers and users of data in both public and private sectors; the types of data collected and used.
  2. an inventory of key data gaps – what are the issues, groups of people, and countries about which the least is known?  Which of these are most critical for making progress on sustainable development?
  3. a definition of data revolution and illustration of what data revolution would concretely mean at the national, regional and international level
  4. a literature review on the ‘value of information’ with examples of the costs of poor or inadequate data and the benefits to be gained by improving the coverage, timeliness or quality of data at local, national and international level.
  5. an inventory of current projects and innovations in the area of big data for development (including social data, mobile data, search data, satellite, sensors etc), with an assessment of results where possible.
  6. an inventory of current projects and initiatives using mobile for good technologies to gather or disperse information (including polling, crowdsourcing, apps, ICT for agriculture etc), with an assessment of results where possible.
  7. an assessment of the current institutional and funding environment for the production, dissemination and use of statistics, including estimates of the ranges of current spending at national level on data in, respectively, high, medium and low income countries.
  8. estimates of current spending on data among international organisations, and the institutional arrangements for producing, handling and disseminating data
  9. an assessment of the funding environment for data among donors and foundations.
    a typology of the different national level institutional systems for producing and handling data
  10. an inventory of national and local institutions involved in collecting household survey data, with an indication of coverage and frequency
Image: linked open data sets by Open Knowledge (CC)

24 Comments

  1. Regarding “priority actions in the first 1-2 years” for official statistics, the agreement of new goals and their related indicators leads rationally to adjustment to the on-going national multi-annual statistics plans that most of the countries have already adopted. Doing so means looking for national answers by national institutions to most of the questions underlying the data revolution landscape.

    To be ready to act on the first year and even the second, national decisions have to be formally made before the end of year 0 (2015 ?), therefore, at country level the process has to be launched as soon as possible, beginning with a mapping and assessment of the current situation. An advocacy campaign would help.

    • 1-2 years for settling priority actions after the agreement looks as a short time for this action

  2. I’d like to comment on an aspect of the international architecture/environment for resourcing data collection. This also addresses the question of ‘how’ data could be opened up, ‘who needs to do what,’ and ‘how owners of data could be required to make data available’ – focusing on geospatial data. Despite the increasing use of geospatial technologies in international development projects and the substantial direct and indirect investment in GIS and statistical data collection for these projects, spatial data infrastructure (or a sustained, distributed network and platform for location-based data sharing and use) still is not commonly recognized and supported by aid agencies and international financial institutions (IFIs) as a basic foundation for development. Project data (whether structured and unstructured) often are not managed suitably for re-use across sectors and after the project has ended. There are few policies or practices in place, institutionalized as part of aid organization and IFI tender/procurement procedures, that ensure access and archiving to project data and/or the ‘repatriation’ of these data to country beneficiaries.

    Some aid organizations and foundations now are moving in the direction of inscribing data management practices into grants, loans, and contracts. This combines both an incentive, in the form of funding, and regulation, in the form of requirements for data management. The inscription of data management practices into grants, loans, and contracts could ensure that grantees or contractors apply data collection standards, create metadata, establish open access conditions, publish data in machine-readable formats, and archive data to ensure availability after a project has ended.

    For instance (coincidentally highlighted in the message from the Editor in the October 2014 SDI Regional Newsletter, http://portal.gsdi.org/files/?artifact_id=1606), USAID/Malawi in a 2014 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Girls’ Empowerment through Education and Health Activity (ASPIRE), inserted two paragraphs on the need for respondents to submit GIS data on their projects. The RFA states on page 13 in between ‘communications strategy’ and ‘place of performance’:
    “USAID Malawi is currently rolling out a Mission wide GIS to support informed decision making and increase the use of evidence to affect decisions and resource allocations across the portfolio. This will include elements of data management, standardization and collection using global positioning system hand held receivers (GPS Units) to capture geo-referenced location data of activities, etc. All new awards (where appropriate) are required to collect and provide spatial data, and the use of GIS for spatial data development and reporting should be included.

    The recipient must provide electronic primary data sets to the USAID/Malawi AOR. All locations where implementation is occurring must be geo-referenced (schools, villages and households, etc). At a minimum, data must be provided in an MS Excel sheet with latitude and longitude locations in decimal degree format and include District and TA/SC location names and other attribute data that will be agreed upon in coordination with the AOR in consultation with the recipient. USAID/Malawi prefers the submission of data in the ESRI shape file format with an associated meta data file.”

    This USAID requirement is an example of an aid agency that is learning from past projects which unfortunately have had a history of ignoring data re-use and under-appreciating the importance of spatial data infrastructure. The Independent Expert Advisory Group could include in its recommendations as a potential lever for change greater use of inscription of data management practices into grants, loans, and contracts – keeping in mind that inscription is only part of the process; another element is monitoring and ensuring compliance with the inscription requirements (which aid agencies and IFIs may not have the capacity to do, but a third party or civil society organizations could be enabled to do). Also, inscription of data management practices into contracts and grants, while having the potential to achieve broad community-wide benefits that otherwise would not be forthcoming, this approach still is a form of conditionality that could be viewed as coercive by grant or loan recipients (see: Lance, K. et al, 2013. Opening the black box of donor influence on Digital Earth in Africa, International Journal of Digital Earth 6(Sup 2): 1-21. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17538947.2012.699560)

  3. I’d like to comment on an aspect of the international architecture/environment for resourcing data collection – focusing on geospatial data. This also addresses the questions of ‘how’ data could be opened up, ‘who needs to do what,’ and ‘how owners of data could be required to make data available’ (from accessible data consultation area).

    Despite the increasing use of geospatial technologies in international development projects and the substantial direct and indirect investment in RS/GIS and statistical data collection for these projects, spatial data infrastructure (or a collaborative, distributed network and platform for location-based data sharing and use) still is not commonly recognized and supported by aid agencies and international financial institutions (IFIs) as a basic foundation for development. Project data (whether structured or unstructured) often are not managed suitably for re-use across sectors and after the project has ended. There are few policies or practices in place, institutionalized as part of aid organization and IFI tender/procurement procedures, that ensure access and archiving to project data and/or the ‘repatriation’ of these data to country beneficiaries.

    Some aid organizations and foundations now are moving in the direction of inscribing data management practices into grants, loans, and contracts. This combines both an incentive, in the form of funding, and regulation, in the form of requirements for data management. The inscription of data management practices into grants, loans, and contracts could ensure that grantees or contractors apply data collection standards, create metadata, establish open access conditions, publish data in machine-readable formats, and archive data to ensure availability after a project has ended.

    For instance (coincidentally highlighted in the message from the Editor in the October 2014 SDI Regional Newsletter, http://portal.gsdi.org/files/?artifact_id=1606), USAID/Malawi in a 2014 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Girls’ Empowerment through Education and Health Activity (ASPIRE), inserted two paragraphs on the need for respondents to submit GIS data on their projects. The RFA states on page 13 in between ‘communications strategy’ and ‘place of performance’:
    “USAID Malawi is currently rolling out a Mission wide GIS to support informed decision making and increase the use of evidence to affect decisions and resource allocations across the portfolio. This will include elements of data management, standardization and collection using global positioning system hand held receivers (GPS Units) to capture geo-referenced location data of activities, etc. All new awards (where appropriate) are required to collect and provide spatial data, and the use of GIS for spatial data development and reporting should be included.

    The recipient must provide electronic primary data sets to the USAID/Malawi AOR. All locations where implementation is occurring must be geo-referenced (schools, villages and households, etc). At a minimum, data must be provided in an MS Excel sheet with latitude and longitude locations in decimal degree format and include District and TA/SC location names and other attribute data that will be agreed upon in coordination with the AOR in consultation with the recipient. USAID/Malawi prefers the submission of data in the ESRI shape file format with an associated meta data file.”

    This USAID requirement is an example of an aid agency that is learning from past projects which unfortunately have had a history of ignoring data re-use and under-appreciating the importance of spatial data infrastructure. The Independent Expert Advisory Group could include in its recommendations greater use of inscription of data management practices into grants, loans, and contracts as a lever for change – keeping in mind that inscription is only part of the process; another element is monitoring and ensuring compliance with the inscription requirements (which aid agencies and IFIs may not have the capacity to do, but a third party or civil society organizations could be enabled to do). Also, inscription of data management practices into contracts and grants, while having the potential to achieve broad community-wide benefits that otherwise are not forthcoming, this approach still is a form of conditionality that could be viewed as coercive by grant or loan recipients (see: Lance, K. et al, 2013. Opening the black box of donor influence on Digital Earth in Africa, International Journal of Digital Earth 6(Sup 2): 1-21. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17538947.2012.699560)

  4. Use corporate social responsibility to get MNEs to buy into this concept. There is so much free information available but the average person is unaware…link access through telephones and transistor radios for remote areas…this worked in years gone-by…I am sure it still has it use. Transistors become the life line in a hurricane!

    • D. Paul Schafer, Director, World Culture Project
    • 12.10.14

    I think the problem of systemic change must be addressed before new data can be created for the change that is most necessary. I believe the systemic change that is needed most in the world is to enter a cultural age, where culture is understood in the holistic sense as a complex whole or total way of life. This matter is addressed in detail in two of my recent books, Revolution or Renaissance: Making the Transition from an Economic Age to a Cultural Age, and The Age of Culture. There is also information there about the need to develop ‘cultural indicators’ as more effective vehicles for measuring environment sustainability and human welfare and well-being.

  5. Create teams:

    -Experts in data collection worldwide
    -Quality assurance experts who test accuracy of data

    Would love to discuss more!

  6. The topics raised here are vast in their scope. It may make sense to group issue areas even further.
    Data is futile unless users are able to access it and understand it.
    From my experience, easy and open access, as well as good documentation are key. Data projects need to invest resources in the people who create and document the data and use free and open resources to share it.
    Rather than talking about “big data”, I would focus on how to connect different data sources, to allow room for ideas of people who wish to create useful models and applications. If we want data to revolutonize anything, then the data needs to be usable in applications, by everyone who wants to drive this revolution.

  7. The NZ government recently commissioned a group of people drawn from the public and private sector to do some thinking about the new data landscape and to explore the potential of linking and sharing data. The three reports of New Zealand Data Futures Forum are available on their website http://www.nzdatafutures.org.nz, and you might find some of their thinking helpful.
    In their first paper the Forum set out potential benefits, opportunities, risks and challenges in the new data environment. In their second and third papers they argued that trust, inclusion, control are also systemic challenges. The Forum was strongly of the view that you there is huge potential to use data for social and economic value, if you can strengthen trust, inclusion and control in the data ecosystem. “If people trust how institutions manage data, see benefits for themselves derived from data sharing, and feel they have some control over how personal data is used, they are likely to support and actively contribute to collaborative data-sharing activities.”

  8. Deep Thinking has gone into articulating Questions for Discussion in each of the Four Consultation Areas. Well Done. On this Thread, the Key focus in “Putting it all Together”.

    In Fighting the War against Terrorism, the way one reason with another who wants to kill but does not want to die in the process, is different from the way one reason with another who wants to kill and die in the process.

    In Institutionalizing Good Governance, the way one reason with a Government / Institution who wants its problems correctly diagnosed with effective prescription and is genuinely committed to taking Treatment – Surgery and Recovery Management is different from the way one reason with a Government / Institution who does not want its problems diagnosed and so issues of prescription, surgery and recovery management do not arise.

    It is pertinent to note that above problems abound on both Developed and Developing Countries sides, hence these points need to be taken into consideration in the Design and Delivery of Data Landscape, including the building of Data Institutional Architecture at Sub-national, National levels within a Country as well as International levels: Sub-Regional, Regional and Global.

    The fundamental issues involved are less Science, Technology and Innovation and more Politics; that is more of Leadership than Technical. Trust is the Foundation of Leadership. But today, the relationship between Government and Governed; Country and Country (Developed / Developed; Developed / Developing; Developing / Developing) is based largely on fear not Trust and this explains the Leadership and Political problems on both Developing and Developed Countries sides today. See Article on America Decline
    https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/declining-public-trust-in-us-institutions-by-joseph-s–nye-2014-10

    Without Data Innovation, there can be no Data Revolution and related Revolutions Driving work towards achieving increasing convergence between Final Push to achieve MDG by 2015 and Post 2015 Development Agenda Vision Intention and Reality. See this Link http://www.ingenesist.com/general-info/finally-a-definition-for-innovation.html

    on Innovation for greater Insight on what Data Innovation should be about and need to Integrate this with finding answers to Data Revolution and related Revolutions How Questions; fully Implementing these answers with effective monitoring and evaluation of this Implementation.

    To effectively address points made in this and other Posts, there is urgent need to fully understand the Sociology and Psychology of Community: Neighborhood to Global Leaders on both Developed and developing Countries sides as basis for understanding what is needed to effectively Change their Thinking and Strengthen them to effectively Promote and Protect Attitude and Behavior required to achieve increasing convergence between Data Revolution and related Revolutions Vision Intention and Reality.

    It is pertinent to note that Governments / International Institutions seek advise from Go To Think Tanks including Top Universities in the World, yet problems underlying specific questions asked in Four Consultation Focus Areas persist. The point is, in addressing Data Revolution and related Revolutions problems on the ground in the Real World, problems on Go To Think Tanks sides must be simultaneously tackled.

  9. Beyond Data Monitoring – Achieving the Sustainability Development Goals Through Intelligence (Decision-Support) Integrating Holistic Analytics, True Cost Economics, and Open Source Everything

    Document Online at http://tinyurl.com/EIN-UN-SDG

    Executive Summary

    As the United Nations (UN) contemplates its most important new economic and social initiative, the seventeen new Sustainability Development Goals (SDG), to be manifest in the Global Sustainable Development Report and related UN System activities, it is essential that the Secretary-General be afforded an opportunity to recognize the radical changes that are taking place in the external environment – and how the UN can capitalize on them to accelerate achievement of the SDGs.

    At a time when The UN is focused on data as a statistical artifact necessary to monitoring the current state and future progress, the world is experiencing the five stages of collapse identified by Dmitry Orlov: financial, commercial, political, social, and cultural. Monitoring is necessary but insufficient if the UN is to stabilize – stop – this systemic collapse, and enable achievement of the SDGs.

    Beyond data monitoring – and a reliance on modest donor promises, many of which will fail to materialize – there is a brilliant world of holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. This approach – pro-active and centered on ethical evidence-based decision-support – could – if implemented within the UN with a fraction of the promised funding for the SDGs – mobilize vastly greater resources; speed implementation of the seventeen SDGs, and therefore support the mission of the UN and its Member States in a manner much more effective than now possible.

    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has since 2012 been seeking a solution – a tangible foundation – for moving beyond Government in harmonizing understanding, spending, and outcomes in relation to the UN Mission – particularly the SDGs. Intelligence (decision-support) is the means by which the UN can illuminate true costs, educate the public, eradicate corruption, and harmonize field effect.

    The reality is that the Specialized Agencies (SA) and their information stove-pipes as well as their human networks are far removed from useful access and exploitation by the core elements of the UN responsive to the Secretary-General. Similarly, the data silos of all other organizations scattered across the eight information “tribes” that must be brought together to achieve hybrid governance (academic, civil society including labor and religion, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit) are all beyond any possible UN construct for near-real-time big data monitoring and sense-making.

    A human-centric United Nations Open-Source Decision-Support Information Network (UNODIN) is proposed as a counterpart to the established data monitoring capability. UNODIN offers an opportunity, at very low-cost, to mobilize donations from over one hundred billionaires seeking impact investments far beyond the capabilities of the thousands of smaller lesser non-governmental organizations – while also helping tens of thousands of Chief Executive Officers (CEO) redirect their corporate spending in favor of sustainable profits that are directly tied to the seventeen SDGs.

    By using intelligence (decision-support) to educate local to global publics away from unsustainable products, services, policies, and behaviors, and by promulgating open source everything solutions within each of the SDGs, the UN will accomplish its mission – its specific goals – faster, better, cheaper than anyone might have imagined. We must create an education-intelligence-research revolution.

    Such a revolution would place the UN via UNODIN at the center of a global to local network of humans able to leap-frog past the obstacles inherent in data monitoring, able to achieve near-real-time understanding, self-governance, localized enforcement, and most importantly, localized self-sustainability. By combining a holistic analytic model useful at all levels, a commitment to rapidly documenting and promulgating true cost economic information, and a leadership role in creating open source everything engineering solutions relevant to each aspect of each SDG, the UN would become the catalyst for a financial, commercial, political, social, and cultural revolution. Nothing less will do.

  10. (1, 2 and 3) In the education sector, the main need for data arises in two levels (outcome and output).

    At the outcome level, information is scarce in three areas: early childhood development and readiness to learn, diverse learning outcomes at primary and secondary education, and skills and competencies for youth and adults, including literacy.

    To fill these data gap international bodies should agree on:
    (i) globally comparable indicators in these areas: for example, while international, regional and a growing number of national learning assessments have been conducted, to some extent, in more than a hundred countries, insufficient effort has sought to ensure that these assessments are systematically linked so that a global portrayal learning levels and deficits can be constructed (as has been the case in the health sector); and
    (ii) financing poorer countries to invest in this statistical work

    At the output level, despite considerable progress since 2000, many member states are still not participating in robust household and school surveys that capture current education patterns as well as levels of education attainment for different population groups.

    In addition, international coordination is needed to identify gaps (countries not covered by surveys), promote openness (in countries covered by surveys) and ensure consistency in how key educations are asked across surveys. Greater collaboration in these areas would provide a more complete global picture of access, participation and completion of students at different levels of schooling.

    Finally, concerted efforts are required to capture the educational situation of marginalized populations throughout the world including, for example, unregistered children, street kids, those with disabilities, children of nomad populations and urban slum dwellers, which are routinely missed by surveys.

  11. Thank you Linda and Robert for your contributions.

    NZ Land of Great People. I met Jeremy Pope, NZer and Head Transparency International, London Office, in London in November 2003 after several email exchanges in preceding months. If I recall correctly, TI London Office then was like the TI Think Tank. Jeremy accepted to work with our Institution but was unceremoniously removed from office before our London meeting. We have a feeling his Integrity and acceptance to work with Professionals like us, contributed to his removal. Today, TI Corruption Perception Index is itself corrupt.

    Davis, another NZer has information that could lead to early release of Chibok Girls held in captivity by Boko Haram 184 days now. No one knows when these Young Girls could be released and How much Psychological and other damage they would have suffered by the time they are released. What a shame that Terrorists could abuse US President Obama, UK Prime Minister Cameron, Nigeria President Jonathan, yet months after World Leaders sent help to Nigeria authorities, Boko Haram atrocities in Nigeria go from bad to worse. If US, UK, France, Nigeria, Cameroon and other Countries are serious, should release of these Young Girls take more than 2 weeks? If UN is truly empowered as Government over Government, will Common Security Assistance to release these Young Girls fail in such appalling way?

    NZ Data Revolution Initiative shared by Linda is a pointer in the Right direction that all the over 200 Countries in our World today should adopt and adapt, in the work towards achieving Corruption Free Society in each Community in each Local Government in each Country in our World today. Can the World tackle Boko Haram and other Terrorists without Institutionalizing Corruption Free Society?

    Robert, you are doing Great work. Well Done. A lot of answers to Data Revolution What Questions and Why Questions have been contributed on the Four Consultation Areas through private submission and public submission. Your UNODIN Report, Executive Summary of which you have Posted and the NZ Data Revolution Initiative are contributions to answers to Data Revolution How Questions. However, fundamental issues of One Worldwide Approach with clear Principles, Instruments / Tools corresponding to each Principle, Practices and Database; One Worldwide Implementation Framework; One Worldwide Master Plan of Neighborhood to Global Master Plans and related matters – Statistics and Non Statistics; Human Resources Management, HRD and Non HRD, need to be correctly identified and effectively solved.

    UNODIN appears to us to be a Database. Is this correct? If yes, what is the Approach – the underlying Principles, Instruments, Practices and Database that all relevant Sub-national, National and International Development Cooperation Stakeholders will Jointly use in Design and Delivery of Data Revolution Policy, Program, Project Interventions? If UNODIN is an Approach, what are the Principles, Instruments corresponding to each Principle, Practices and Database?

    If UNODIN is a Database and you do not have an Approach, the Policy, Program, Project Cycle Management, 3PCM Approach has a Database Technology that could Integrate well with any good Database Technology such as UNODIN.

    If UNODIN is an Instrument and you do not have an Approach, the 4th Instrument in 3PCM is a Master Tool Box that could accommodate any good Instrument such as UNODIN.

    3PCM Approach has 4 Principles, 4 Instruments, 4 Practices and a Database. It is the most advance Approach for Benefits focused Sub-national, National and International Development Cooperation available anywhere in our World today. 3PCM was created by Dr. Hellmut Eggers (German) and Mr. Lanre Rotimi (Nigerian).

    UNODIN assumes all Politicians; Senior Civil Servants and Media Executives in each Country – Developed and Developing genuinely want solutions to Sub-national, National and International Development Cooperation problems on the ground facing them. Our study finding is that this is not always the case. How does UNODIN solve this real World problem on the ground in many Countries – Developed and Developing?

    Also, UNODIN assumes 100% Free of Charge Services will be offered to Service Users. Our study finding is that this is not sustainable and kills Innovation. Without Financial Sustainability underlined by appropriate Science, Technology and Innovation, the worthy and noble Aims of UNODIN cannot be realized. Yes we agree UNODIN cannot be offered under 100% Commercial arrangement but our study finding is that Initiatives supported by Instrument / Approach such as UNODIN require blended Commercial and Not for Profit arrangement for implementation with sustainable success.

    13 October each year (2 days ago), is International Day for Disaster Reduction – a day to reflect on the importance of reducing disaster risks worldwide. Our study finding is that the greatest Natural Hazard and Natural Disaster in the World today is the Human Being; that without effective management of Natural Hazards, Unnatural Hazards, Natural Disasters and Unnatural Disasters, NHUHNDUD, it will be impossible achieving increasing convergence between Data Revolution and related Revolutions Vision Intention and Reality that is Integral Part of work towards achieving increasing convergence between Final Push to achieve MDG by 2015 and Post 2015 Development Agenda Vision Intention and Reality.

    Should IEAG harvest all good ideas and pertinent suggestions from this consultation into Interim Report by Friday 17 October 2014 and Final Report by Friday 31 October 2014 and should UN Executive Management, UN Security Council and UN General Assembly approve the Interim Report and Final Report Recommendations for full implementation, ACTION can start on Data Revolution and related Revolutions by Mid November 2014 with Amazing Positive Transformation across our World.

    There are Bright Prospects of Success. It is our Prayer that the Huge Potential would translate to Reality to yield Huge Sustainable Benefits to the over 2 Billion World Poor including Women and Children not only in Developing Countries but also in Developed Countries. If the Bright Prospects of Success is Wasted, the ultimate consequences could be catastrophe for all World Citizens.

  12. Lovely comment with two major points that most of the legacy mind-sets continue to miss:

    Open Access means that all data must be OPEN — suited for sharing across all forms.

    Geospatial attributes, something I started recommending in 1989, are essential to allow for both location and time based visualization and retrieval, and for machine-speed fusion of all data from all disciplines and domains.

    CrisisMappers and OpenStreetMap are for me good starting points; GoogleEarth is not. In my experience the MemberState geospatial legacy systems are hostile to anything having to do with sharing. Hence, the UN needs to think about leading the data revolution, it will not find a solution on the shelf.

  13. UNODIN is a global to local information-sharing and sense-making architecture that includes a School of Future-Oriented Hybrid Governance, a World Brain Institute with four world-brain networks (.net, .org, .com, .edu), and a variety of other elements, all distributed. It is not possible to understand UNODIN from the summary submission, you would have to walk in my shoes these past 25 years and read all of the other published material.

    You clearly have a great deal to offer in any implementing conversation. Whether the UN will “notice” my submission and consider it seriously — it goes so far beyond mere data monitoring — is not assured.

  14. Robert, Good Points. Risk Management and Geodesign is each emerging Discipline and Profession. Risk Management addresses the Economic Development side of NHUHNDUD Management and Geodesign addresses the Environmental Sustainability side of NHUHNDUD. These Disciplines and Professions need to be organized into Global Professional Bodies. We have identified 28 more such Disciplines and Professions that also need to be organized into Global Professional Bodies. This is a part of what is required to strengthen the Global Partnership for achieving Data Revolution Vision Intention and Reality

    The real work is in the Doing. This consultation has generated many good ideas and pertinent suggestions. Jennifer, IEAG Secretariat and IEAG Members have done great work. We should be hopeful that they will articulate the suggestions into Reports whose Recommendations will resonate positively with relevant authorities on UN Headquarters, each UN Agency Headquarters, Developed Countries Governments, Developing Countries Governments, WBG, IMF, other International Institutions, International Foundations and Partners sides.

    The next few days / weeks will tell……

  15. In his 2013 report to the General Assembly the Secretary General called for the post 2015 framework to “leave no one behind” by promoting equality,[1] a message reiterated by a range of Member States in their inputs to the post 2015 process. The UN System Task Team’s report on population dynamics reiterated this message saying “a post-2015 agenda should account for a progressively and rapidly ageing world.”[2] The Post 2015 High Level Panel Report calls for “a data revolution…with a new international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information”,[3] a call reiterated by the Secretary General.[4]

    In the context of rapid population ageing, where in 30 years there will be approximately one fifth of the global population over 60 and where the fastest increase in this age group right now is in low and middle income countries, a post 2015 framework is needed that supports a society of all ages, for all ages, and which responds to the rights of women and men across the life-course. The framework must be based on international human rights standards and principles, including universality, non-discrimination, equality, participation, empowerment and accountability.

    For the sustainable development framework must be ‘ fit for purpose’ in today’s ageing world it must not be age blind. This is why the data revolution must deliver an age inclusive monitoring framework for the SDGs and resources must be dedicated to this. The report of the expert group must articulate how progress against the future SDGs will be measured for all age groups, and give the ideas for improvements in how data is collected, analysed and reported. This data revolution must be fully planned and articulated to ensure a development framework that supports evidence based decision making, and strengthened accountability to older citizens. With current gaps and weaknesses in the collection, analysis, reporting and use of data on older people, including existing indicators and surveys only collecting data on people up to the age of 49, and a lack of disaggregation and analysis by age and sex, particularly for older people, future discussions of Member States and other stakeholders must focus on these issues.

    The final outcome document recently approved by acclamation of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals has encouraged us that ageing issues have not altogether been ignored, as was the case with the Millennium Development Goals. Targets include references to “older persons” (targets 2.2, 11.2 and 11.7) and “all ages” (target 1.2, goal 3, target 10. 2 and target 17.18). There are also a number of references to “for all”, “all” and “life-long” which, while weaker in specificity, imply the inclusion of older persons. There is a commitment to disaggregate data by age.

    We are very aware that there is no guarantee that the language used in the OWG outcome document will remain in the final negotiated framework. There are also a number of concerns of older persons which have not been taken into account by the OWG. And overall data methods used to capture views of citizens are not yet inclusive of older citizens, as we have seen in the UNMC responses which are ‘ageblind’. This is why clear transparent data on how issue of age are in the framework will be important to make progress on the accountability of governments to their older citizens.

    As work proceeds on agreeing on a sustainable development framework, clear signs of commitment to ensuring inclusive development and prosperity for all people of all ages and abilities is needed. We have the tools, we have the technology. Do we have the collective will? We are watching.

  16. Originally published: http://hi-project.org/2014/10/open-letter-un-data-revolution-group/

    Open letter to the UN Data Revolution Group

    To:
    Tim O’Reilly, Professor Sandy Pentland and all members of the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, United Nations.

    Re:
    > The Data Revolution Group consultation concluding 15th October 2014
    > The hi:project – transforming interfaces, securing privacy, driving mutual value from data, and supporting self-knowledge.

    From:
    Philip Sheldrake, CEng, on behalf of the hi:project.

    Date:
    15th October 2014.

    Dear Sirs,

    The Report of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda [1] (May 2013) called for:

    “… a data revolution for sustainable development, with a new international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information available to citizens. We should actively take advantage of new technology, crowd sourcing, and improved connectivity to empower people with information on the progress towards the targets.”

    A Life of Dignity for All [2] (July 2013), a report by the United Nations Secretary-General dedicated to accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, asserts that such progress be:

    “supported by pioneering approaches to data and rigorous accountability mechanisms.”

    To this end, the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development [3] was formed 29th August 2014 to report by the beginning of November 2014, and this letter is written on behalf of the hi:project in response to the Group’s consultation process concluding 15th October. The Group is challenged with considering the accessibility of data, assessing progress towards the Goals, data innovation, and fitting all these together.

    Here I offer a brief context and introduction to the hi:project, and explain its relation to each of the Group’s considerations. We hope you might consider our endeavour one of the innovations your report should cover.

    THE HI:PROJECT

    __It’s personal__

    Personal data should be just that, personal. But the qualities of data and information flows have no pre-digital precedent, so pre-digital connotations of ownership are inadequate at best, disabling at worst.

    Data of itself is just discrete, objective facts, and humans do not readily digest or understand data. Rather, we deal in information; that is data made useful and relevant. A collection of data is not information, for that it also requires context and understanding, and that context and understanding often comes from considering one set of data amongst others. Therefore, locking data up in secured personal repositories is far from optimal for anyone.

    Personal data must be allowed to breathe for it to be of most value to the individual and society, and the corresponding parameters are best set by the individual in question with clear appreciation for the mutual value thus realised or suppressed. Perhaps such facility allows us the opportunity to move beyond the societal question of whether to lend the individual or the collective primacy, recognizing instead that each is always enabled by the other.

    This new regard for personal data is, as you will know, succinctly expressed in the World Economic Forum report, Unlocking the power of personal data: From collection to usage (PDF) [4], specifically Figure 2, reproduced here [5].

    However, the status quo is not dominated by personal data vaults, but corporate ones [6]:

    “One of the biggest problems with big data is that currently it is almost all solely in the hands of the private sector. How can this data be made more public? The point was made that this fact is troubling from a development perspective as the private sector has very different objectives to the public sector and is not necessarily invested in the post-2015 agenda.”

    It is this situation that has propagated interest in personal data vaults, but the hi:project breaks us free of this apparent dilemma. Moreover, it does not require legislation or revolution, but rather taps into well understood societal, technical and market mechanics to effect the change. Slowly but surely.

    __It’s all in the mix__

    Mr. O’Reilly, in a recent article – #IoTH: The Internet of Things and Humans [7] – you generalize the Internet of Things paradigm as:

    “… sensors + network + actuators + local and cloud intelligence + creative UI for gathering both explicit and implicit instructions from humans.”

    As the name of our project conveys, we pivot our vision around the concept of the human interface (HI) and its gradual dominance over UI [8]. The UI is a 50 year old construct fit for 20th Century computing whereas the HI is core to the pervasive digital environment of the 21st Century. The UI belongs to the organization whereas the HI belongs to the individual. The UI is anchored in branded silos whereas the HI spans the facets of life. The UI provides interactive information whereas the HI enables knowledge building.

    The hi:project interweaves concepts and innovations from a broad range of areas beyond human-computer interaction including sociology and the future of organization, tech architecture intent on decentralization, vendor relationship management, quantified self, internet of things, social business and digital transformation, and education and learning. Our project exists to bring these different communities together, learning from and building on each other, synthesizing the respective insights and knowledge interwoven by common values and purpose.

    Aligning with some of the work pursued by you and your team Professor Pentland at MIT Center for Collective Intelligence [9], our vision moves beyond the parent-child dynamic of surveillance and sousveillance towards the adult-adult interaction we label socioveillance. Such facility is critical if we are to scale up human relationships to correspond with every other facet of organization scaled up during the 20th Century, if we are to encourage or at least accommodate emergence of self-organization, of leaner and more responsive organization.

    The hi:project vision is told in the form of a short presentation stack on our homepage [10].

    IN RELATION TO THE GROUP’S CONSIDERATIONS

    Your Group is consulting across four areas, and I have commented briefly on each in our context:

    __Accessible data__

    [11] Unlike the typical focus of UI on “mr average”, presentation of information via the human interface (HI) is compatible with the individual’s level of literacy. It may also help to improve the individual’s literacy over time.

    Our project aims to make it easier for individuals to understand how personal data is used and by whom and for what purpose. Mutual value is recognised and reflected back to the individual where and when societal benefit is accrued.

    __Measuring progress on the Goals__

    [12] The hi:project facilitates the sharing of citizen generated data.

    We emphasise the self-managed quantified-self [13] and organised-self in which individuals pull expertise towards themselves rather than outsource it, where each of us acquires agency as sense-maker, and where sense-making is enhanced with statistical context.

    __Data Innovation__

    [14] The hi:project has identified clear incentives to the private and public sectors to supplement UI with HI and eventually to transition entirely. These include elimination of capital expenditure, reduced operational expense and risk, and improvements in terms of stakeholder experiences, participation, trust and loyalty.

    The hi:project encourages the development of the next phase of the networked society, facilitating more effective collaboration between the demos, public and private sectors, enshrining privacy in the context of communal benefit.

    In terms of data innovation, the Group’s website asserts [14]:

    “Much of the big data with the most potential to be used for public good is collected by the private sector. As such, public-private partnerships are likely to become more widespread.”

    We agree with the first sentence, but the advent of the hi:project doesn’t necessarily require that the second sentence follows. Rather, instead of thinking in terms of traditional organizational structures in either private or public sector, we facilitate the emergence of new forms of organization [15].

    __Data landscape__

    [16] With respect to the overall data landscape, the Group asks:

    “What are the priority actions in the first 1-2 years following the agreement of new goals that can set the right course for long-term improvements and innovations in data collection and use by governments and citizens?”

    We consider that change is best founded on:
    > mutual understanding – understanding points of view and reasons for those points of view
    > mutual influence – mutual revision / adaption of opinions and behaviours
    > mutual value – recognising the value contributed and the value derived.

    In a systems thinking respect, we hope then that the hi:project will not only help to establish the “data revolution”, but will play a role in effecting constant adjustment to both the articulation of new goals and their achievement. In other words, helping divine the optimum position on the deliberate-emergent strategy [17] spectrum for the data revolution and future UN goals.

    OPEN, DECENTRALIZED AND INCLUSIVE

    The hi:project is focused on many of the same objects as your Group. It is focused on the privacy concerns harboured by more and more people, as expressed recently by Sir Tim Berners-Lee [18]. It is focused on being transformative yet entirely pragmatic.

    It requires nothing but the new combination of existing technologies. It’s agnostic when it comes to personal data stores. It is open, decentralized and inclusive. And we believe it attracts the altruist, yet is intent on helping the community derive all the value it contributes by walking the talk.

    We consider the hi:project of equal import to the developing world as developed, and just as we find communities today coming straight to mobile, skipping landlines and PCs, we hope similarly many will skip UI straight to HI in the future.

    You can read statements from our champions on our website here [19].

    I’d be delighted to speak with you should this letter and the interim hi:project website [10] prompt your interest.

    Kind regards,

    Philip Sheldrake, CEng, on behalf of the hi:project.

    Managing Partner, Euler Partners
    Director, techUK
    Analysts, Gigaom Research
    UK Ambassador, The Network Society

    LINKS
    1. http://report.post2015hlp.org/digital-report-executive-summary.html
    2. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/202
    3. http://www.undatarevolution.org
    4. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_IT_UnlockingValuePersonalData_CollectionUsage_Report_2013.pdf
    5. http://www.hi-project.org/faqs/owns-data
    6. http://www.undatarevolution.org/2014/10/03/ieag-data-revolution-mtg-1
    7. http://radar.oreilly.com/2014/04/ioth-the-internet-of-things-and-humans.html
    8. http://www.hi-project.org/faqs/what-do-you-mean-by-human-interface
    9. http://cci.mit.edu
    10. http://www.hi-project.org
    11. http://www.undatarevolution.org/data-use-availability
    12. http://www.undatarevolution.org/measuring-sustainable-development
    13. http://youtu.be/fg5rPkHTrCI
    14. http://www.undatarevolution.org/data-innovation
    15. http://www.hi-project.org/2014/10/new-chapter-internets-impact-human-society
    16. http://www.undatarevolution.org/data-landscape
    17. http://www.philipsheldrake.com/2014/07/deliberate-emergent-design
    18. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/oct/08/sir-tim-berners-lee-speaks-out-on-data-ownership
    19. http://www.hi-project.org/champions

  17. Available evidence and quantitative analysis show that budget transparency, expenditure monitoring, and accountability can contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of government spending, and better results towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Whether or not this occurs crucially depends on data availability, space for civil society engagement, political will, and government capacity. Ensuring positive outcomes in the post-2015 agenda requires a “data revolution” in tracking government spending, aid, and results. This can be facilitated by:

    • Promoting budget transparency and access to information on spending targeted to each of the development goals, including an indicator in the post-2015 framework. (e.g. analysis of government reports submitted to and compiled by a regularly updated UN registry as referred to in the Bali Communiqué)
    • Monitoring government spending on the goals as part of the “means of implementation.”
    • Increasing support for strengthening government systems to publish detailed budget information.
    • Increasing support for building the capacity of citizens, the media, parliaments, and government officials to strengthen budget accountability.

    For more information and recommendations, please see

    – From Numbers to Nurses: Why Budget Transparency, Expenditure Monitoring, and Accountability are Vital to the Post-2015 Framework
    http://internationalbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/Budget-Brief-From-Numbers-to-Nurses.pdf

    – International Budget Partnerships Response to the Open Working Group’s “Zero Draft rev 1” on Sustainable Development Goals
    http://internationalbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/IBP-Statement-to-UN-OWG-10-July-2014.pdf

    – International Budget Partnership Response to the HLP Communiqué
    http://internationalbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/IBP-response-to-Bali-communique-19-April.pdf

  18. Regarding the “priority actions in the first 1-2 years for setting the right course for long-term improvements and innovations in data collection and use by governments and citizens”, the current architecture is built around the concept that data is scarce and that large organizations who collect the data get to own that data. They do not reflect the reality of a ‘big data’ society in which the amount of data that can be collected about a single individual becomes so large that invasion of privacy become real issues. Data ownership must be shifted to the individual. Large data is still personal data. There is a growing disconnect between the intent of regulations, such as the Code of EU Online Rights and the reality of data collection/management. This needs to be fixed in the developed world and we need to get it right from the start in the developing world.
    These issues are even more pressing in places in which institutional protection of human rights is insufficient or not properly implemented.
    It will be vital to establish proper procedures for safeguarding the rights of individuals vs. the interests of corporations, or governments, in the ownership and use of data. If we are not able to establish a clear, transparent functioning working relationship between public and private sectors, and individual citizens, then it may become necessary to impose stricter regulation of the role that large corporations are given in the implementation of data architectures. Establishing a good system of checks and balances, that function at a multi-national level will be important at the start. Trying to implement these later will be very difficult, as can been seen in the disputed of issues like net-neutrality that are currently waging in the US and Europe.

    Regarding the list of 10 items about the data revolution landscape that currently are being mapped, the Horizon Digital Economy hub (University of Nottingham, UK) has various projects related to these items and might be able to help with the mapping exercise.
    [www.horizon.ac.uk]

  19. All well and good — the specific ideas are worth doing. What this makes clear, however, is that none of the reports submitted from the data call were actually read not integrated.

    Pretty much what I have come to expect from the UN.

  20. No Robert. Your conclusion may not be fair or justified. It is not easy to distill all the ideas and suggestions contributed in this Global Consultation into a simple, cohesive and comprehensive document such as this important Report. The IEAG Members and IEAG Secretariat indeed Deserve Commendation and not Condemnation for the Great Work they have done producing this Report and in record time.

    It appears you were not aware the Report has been released. Now that you are aware your initial response is one of disappointment, probably because specific details you and others wish to see has not been included in the way you and others expect. Please Look deeper; you and others who may feel as you do, will suddenly discover, if each remain objective, that the Report has indeed effectively captured the essence of serious public and private contributions to the Data Revolution Global Consultation.

    However, the issue of answers to Data Revolution How questions has not been addressed. It is good that IEAG Members and IEAG Secretariat have sent out an exposure Draft Data Revolution Report for further Global Consultation. This is a unique opportunity for all who have contributed good ideas to go through the over 800 lines and make contributions that help to further ENRICH this Very Good and Very Important Report.

    I remain convinced that your Initiative and other Great Initiatives thrown up in the Global Consultations can contribute much towards achieving increasing convergence between Data Revolution Vision Intention and Reality and that as long as those who contribute these Initiatives that have helped enrich the Report regardless of whether the contributors can see their specific initiative in the Report or not, are not meaningfully involved in the implementation of these aspects of the Report, the Implementation of the Report will fall below what could have been achieved otherwise, which is bad or the implementation, despite good intentions, could be flawed and failed like past similar initiatives which is worse. I think this is the import of your concern. If so, this is best addressed through specific amendments to specific provisions in the Report. What do you say?

    In view of the above, Dear Robert and other Colleagues who have contributed good ideas on each of the four Consultation Areas, please read the Report carefully and put forward your own ideas for improving the Report, including influencing it to better address your own concerns, before the 27 October 2014 deadline.

    The IEAG Members and IEAG Secretariat have done a Good Job. The Best way to further encourage them is to make contributions that help cross the Ts and dot the Is. The Ball is in your court……

  21. I have considered what has been offered, and decided there is no point to my attempting to offer any more information since it is clear that my original submission (easily read and downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/EIN-UN-SDG) has not been read nor any of its points considered.

    Until the following terms are visible in every publication of this group, it will not advance beyond legacy concepts that are neither implementable nor scalable.

    Future-Oriented Hybrid Governance
    Holistic Analytics
    True Cost Economics
    Open Source Everything Engineering

    The groups’ evident lack of understanding of Big Data myths and malpractice is particularly troubling to me. For those with an interest, learn more on this point at the below URL: http://www.phibetaiota.net/?s=big+data

    Best wishes to all,
    Robert Steele

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