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What is the ‘data revolution’?


The need for a ‘data revolution’ was first expressed by the High Level Panel, appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise on the global development agenda after the 2015 millennium development goals (MDGs).

The High Level Panel report was quite brief, leaving quite a lot of room for interpretation:

“Better data and statistics will help governments track progress and make sure their decisions are evidence-based; they can also strengthen accountability. This is not just about governments. International agencies, CSOs and the private sector should be involved. A true data revolution would draw on existing and new sources of data to fully integrate statistics into decision making, promote open access to, and use of, data and ensure increased support for statistical systems. ” (HLP Report, P23) 

Most people are in broad agreement that the ‘data revolution’ refers to the transformative actions needed to respond to the demands of a complex development agenda, improvements in how data is produced and used; closing data gaps to prevent discrimination; building capacity and data literacy in “small data” and big data analytics; modernizing systems of data collection; liberating data to promote transparency and accountability; and developing new targets and indicators.

There are different actors in this field, focusing on the different elements above. At the heart of this agenda is an acknowledgement that timely, usable data is critical to informed decision-making, monitoring of progress , and evaluation of outcomes—especially in the the context of the post-2015 development agenda.


  1. – use any film to superpose good concept ideas and to figure out which data to fondate a programe :

    exemple :
    . The piano lesson
    . Witness of war
    . Out of Africa
    . Gone with the Wind

    take out the heart of the film
    Draw -in the real meaning of the word- the heart and the steps of the hero solution
    – what is the context
    – who are the characters (all the characters -if a nation, take the nation in consideration)
    – what are the focuses
    – what are the main joys (drivers) – what are the main points (drivers) of sadness
    – what are the events of suspense and revelations
    – How the hero/heroins evoluate and what are his/her action to succeed

    – Transpose the situation before – after and what are the benefices (from the problem to proposition/action to benefices)

    – Transpose in drawing and figures and in graphs on the above aspects

    What for ?
    In order to understand the emotions that have driven the hero to change things. How She/He places her/his heart and passion to reveal figures.

  2. Where can I find a French translation of the Report on Data Revolution?

    • Thanks for your interest, they haven’t been published yet – work is ongoing to produce translations in key UN languages but I will alert you when they are published – hopefully in the next month or two, thanks.

  3. Is the Data Revolution Group a permanent body?

  4. The term ‘data revolution’ is often used interchangeably with the ‘big data’. I think that is wrong. UN HLP report has not adequately defined whether the data revolution refers to the change in the technological capacity of generating huge amount of data almost every day or the emerging needs of handling these data for the use of society. Is it about data sources or about data use?

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