New Interactive Citizen-Generated Data Platform

Interactive Citizen-Generated Data Platform

Following a study to better understand the number, type and scale of citizen-generated data initiatives across the world, the DataShift has visualised the resulting data to create an interactive online platform. Users are presented with a definition of a citizen-generated data initiative before being invited to browse the multiple initiatives according to the various themes that they address.

CIVICUS Co-Organizing Accountability and Citizen Engagement Stage at Cartagena Data Festival

CIVICUS is thrilled to be organizing, along with UNDP and Africa Gathering, the stage on Accountability and Citizen Engagement at the Cartagena Data Festival.

The stage will take place on Monday 20 April from 14.00 – 18.00 in the Plenary Room – Salon San Cosme y Damian.  We hope to see many DataShift friends there!

Time Title
14:00 – 15:30 Session 1. Reflecting on Experience: Lessons on Data, Accountability and Citizen Engagement

  • How can citizens be engaged in the collection and use of data to strengthen accountability at the local, national, regional and global levels?

Format: 10 minute presentations followed by interactive discussion

Chair: Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General, CIVICUS


  • Accountability through Civic Participation in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, by Angelina Fisher, Professor, NYU School of Law
  • Open Data Social Impact, by Júlia Keserű, International Policy Manager, Sunlight Foundation
  • Lessons from West Africa, by Lawrence Yealue, West Africa Representative, Accountability Lab

Questions from the floor and interactive discussion

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee break
16:00 – 16:30 Session 2. Let’s Launch!Format: 2-minute rapid fire presentations launching new data-driven, citizen-led accountability initiatives

Chair: Mariéme Jamme, Co-Founder, Africa Gathering

Speakers include:

  • Mitchell Toomey, UN Millennium Campaign (MyWorld2015)
  • Sara Ruto, Uwezo
  • Zack Brisson, The Reboot (My Voice)
  • Oluseun Onigbinde, BudgIT Nigeria
  • Kate Higgins, CIVICUS (DataShift)
  • Matthew Martin, Development Finance International
  • Mark Nowottny, Restless Development (The Big Idea)
  • Erica Hagen, GroundTruth Initiative/MapKibera (OpenSchools Kenya)
  • Natalia Currea, UNDP Colombia (
  • Mariella di Ciommo, Development Initiatives (Development Data Hub)
  • Jill Armstrong, World Bank India (OpenIndia)
16:30 – 18:00 Session 3. Charting Our Collective Priorities: A Data Revolution and Post-2015 Agenda with Accountability and Citizen Engagement at its Core

  • What can be done to promote and facilitate meaningful citizen engagement, campaigning and citizen-led monitoring and accountability in order to support inclusive and equitable sustainable development progress?
  • What are the opportunities for collaboration and partnerships amongst organizations committed to a data and accountability revolution for the post-2015 agenda?

Format: Facilitated discussion between between chair, panelists and audience

Chair: Paul Ladd, Director, Post-2015 Team, UNDP


  • Hon. Mr. Patrick Muyaya Katembwe, Member of Parliament, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Muchiri Nyaggah, Executive Director, Local Development Research Institute, Kenya
  • Minh-Thu Pham, Senior Director of Policy, United Nations Foundation
  • Catalina Escobar, Executive Director, Makaia, Colombia


DataShift Breakfast Briefing at Cartagena Data Festival!

Come and find out about the DataShift at our Breakfast Briefing at the Cartagena Data Festival!


Time: Wednesday 22 April, 8.30 – 10.00 am

Place: Salon Fray Tomas del Toro


The briefing will be an opportunity to learn about the DataShift and identify opportunities for collaboration and partnership.


If you have any questions, please contact Jack Cornforth at


We promise coffee and pastries!




Seeking Feedback on the DataShift Theory of Change!

A key piece of advice and feedback received in consultations on the DataShift throughout 2014 was to develop a Theory of Change.

The DataShift team have put our heads together to draft a Theory of Change.  Our objective with the Theory of Change is to clearly outline the change path that connects the activities we implement with the changes we want to support and the outcomes, objective and vision we want to achieve.

You can find a pdf version of the DataShift Theory of Change, with a diagram, here.

We welcome your comments and feedback! Does it make sense? Are we articulating the change path clearly enough? Are we being upfront and honest about assumptions and risks?

Please circulate as widely as possible.  Feedback can be provided by email to or be inserted directly in to a google doc (no diagram) that can be found here.

Many thanks to those who have provided input on the DataShift so far, as well to those who provided resources and advice on putting together a Theory of Change.


DataShift at the UN Statistical Commission

On Tuesday 3 March 2015, Kate Higgins, Manager of the DataShift, participated in a side event jointly organized by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) at the 46th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission in New York. The title of the session was “The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Indicators”. Kate was asked to bring the civil society perspective to the session and was joined by Allesandra Alfieri, from UNSD, Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist and Director, Division of Early Warning and Assessment at the United Nations Environment Program and Pietro Bertazzi, Manager of Policy and Government Affairs at the Global Reporting Initiative.  The session was chaired by Ivo Havinga, Assistant Director at UNSD.

You can find the presentation here: DataShift presentation March 2015 – SEEA

The DataShift looks forward to more collaborations with UNSD in the future!



Datashift Progress Update and Consultation Summary

Progress Update and Consultation Summary

Following a comprehensive Scoping Study and to inform the design of the DataShift implementation phase, CIVICUS has been working with partners and consulting with civil society and a range experts to ensure the DataShift is a bottom-up, demand-driven initiative that responds to the needs of citizens and their organisations.

This document is a synthesis of that work, summarising key lessons from these consultations, before proceeding to outline our ambitious priorities for the initiative for the coming months.

DataShift Outreach in Thailand and Nepal

This January (29-30) the DataShift travelled to Bangkok, Thailand for a conference organised by the Asia Development Alliance (ADA) on creating an enabling environment and accountability for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The conference provided a timely opportunity for the DataShift to share its ambitious plans for the initiative over the coming months with a diverse range of civil society actors from the region.

Immediately after the ADA event, the DataShift convened an initial consultation event in Kathmandu, Nepal (3 Feb) in partnership with the NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN), along with a number of bilateral meetings with key Nepali stakeholders. Representatives from approximately 20 civil society organisations were briefed on the initiative and provided initial recommendations about how the DataShift could help them address data-related challenges.

The Big Development DataShift: From Vision to Implementation

By Jack Cornforth, Senior Project Officer, DataShift, CIVICUS

A little over three months ago I joined CIVICUS to work on the Big Development DataShift project. I had of course by this point developed a relatively good understanding of what the project was all about – helping civil society organisations to better collect and use data for the implementation of projects and to campaign for change more effectively.

What was much less clear, however, was how we were actually going to achieve this mammoth task. Yes the project will deliver a number of key outputs, like a global knowledge hub for CSOs and data experts to share experiences and resources, and a DataShift fund to provide support to smaller organisations for the adoption of new data-related tools and methods. But what these things will actually look like in practice and how we go about building them was still very much undecided.

It was against this backdrop that we travelled to Nairobi for a strategic planning retreat with a group of experts from across the world working on data and development, to try and work out how we should start implementing the project. We began, however, by taking a step back to first unpack a number of assumptions and cut through some of the buzzwords that the data revolution has become so synonymous with, and really clarify what the project hopes to achieve in practical terms. It quickly became apparent that there is an incredibly rich pool of expertise and resources out there, so rather than focus on creating new tools and methodologies for improving the coverage and quality of citizen generated data ourselves, the DataShift should primarily to try and increase awareness of and access to them.

When we then turned to how we would go about actually doing this, participants encouraged us to get too ahead of ourselves and think about what the likes of a knowledge hub should look like, but instead first focus on mapping what is already out there and spoke to our target audience to explore their data-related priorities and challenges are. After all, the project is supposed to be demand driven, based on needs rather than simply trying to push for adoption of new technologies just for technology’s sake. It was exactly these sorts of discussions that have now enabled us to outline our priority next steps, such as further mapping the ‘ecosystem’ of data actors, initiatives and methodologies, and consulting directly with civil society in each of our three pilot countries before we actually start to build any of the project tools.

Nairobi was also a fantastic opportunity to foster new partnerships for the project. While CIVICUS will convene the DataShift, both its strategic direction and implementation are heavily dependent upon the expertise and experience of a whole host of organisations. This ranges from international actors with broad remits around international development, as well as those working on specific data-related issues such like credibility and harmonisation, to national umbrella bodies and community-level organisations operating within pilot countries. Participants representing each of these groups took part and are all seemed to be keen to come on board in some capacity. Given the broad scope and scale of the project, and the differing roles and capacities of organisations wanting to become involved, we must now develop a clear governance framework that covers the range of DataShift partnership types.

Immediately after the planning retreat, the DataShift team remained in Nairobi to hold an initial consultation with CSOs from across Kenya. Again, this was very much an exercise in mapping, looking to identify some common priorities and challenges of these organisations which data-related solutions could help address. Two primary issues that emerged were a desire to improve the credibility of research and campaigns (especially in the eyes of government decision makers), and securing the long-term sustainability of organisations and projects. On the latter, participants didn’t just want to access more funds, there was a strong emphasis on the need to harness and develop local skills and resources. What we must do now, therefore – especially in the context of this pilot country – is ensure that our project activities are shaped to reflect these priorities.

This consultation also provided us with an opportunity to test the messaging and language of the project with a very different audience. Did these participants, the likes of which intended to be the ultimate beneficiaries of the DataShift, understand what we are trying to achieve and how we plan to go about doing it? There was certainly consensus on the assertion that ‘data is power’, despite this power being disproportionately distributed. Nevertheless, there was also agreement that everyone has information of value, no matter who, where, or how poor. Our challenge therefore, is being able to communicate how the project will address this power-imbalance with both the ‘grannie in the village’ and the tech savvy youth activist in the capital. Having now returned back to our respective corners of the globe, the DataShift team is very much looking forward to putting what we have learned in Nairobi into practice during 2015 and beyond.

DataShift at International Civil Society Week

Taking advantage of over 400 delegates from more than 120 countries in Johannesburg, South Africa, for International Civil Society Week (ICSW) from 21-24 November 2014, the Big Development DataShift consultations at ICSW sought to explore data-related strengths and challenges faced by civil society organisations (CSOs); test levels of understanding about the objectives and approach of the DataShift; further define particular areas where the DataShift could provide CSOs with support; and engage potential DataShift partners.

Key lessons from our consultations were:

1. CSOs possess a number of strengths which the DataShift should leverage, including:

  • An existing ability to collect large amounts of data in many different forms
  • Extensive networks of diverse stakeholders
  • A healthy scepticism about the ‘data revolution’

2. Many CSOs face similar challenges around the collection and use of data. These include:

  • Internal capacity to generate data
  • Accessing data and using data in advocacy and programming
  • Credibility challenges when generating and using data

3. Priority areas where CSOs think the DataShift could provide useful support include:

  • Lesson learning, coordination and partnerships between CSOs and between CSOs and other stakeholders
  • Building capacity on data collection, use and curation
  • Creating an enabling environment (for example, supportive legislation around data access) for CSOs around data

We will be consolidating what we have learnt from our consultations soon and look forward to sharing the lessons from the consultations and the DataShift’s next steps.


DataShift Consultation in Kenya

On 24 October 2014 the DataShift held its first country consultation in Kenya. Over 40 civil society organisation (CSO) representatives from across Kenya were mobilized to unpack key terms and concepts related to the DataShift; explore how data is being collected and used by CSOs and other actors in Kenya; and map CSO priorities and challenges related to improving data collection and use.

Key lessons from the consultation were:

  • The use of clearly defined, non-technical language and concepts is essential to effectively communicating the DataShift and securing buy-in from Kenyan CSOs.
  • There is a diverse mix of actors collecting data, and using (or not using it), in different ways in Kenya. When it comes to data, there is a significant difference between urban and rural contexts.
  • CSOs believe that ‘data is power’, but this power is currently disproportionately distributed across the country. Nevertheless, everyone has information of value, no matter who they are, where they are, and what they do.
  • Participants saw improved collection and use of data being important for improving the credibility of research and campaigning (especially in the eyes of government decision makers), as well as the long-term sustainability of CSOs and their projects.

Full summary notes from the consultation are available here.

We look forward to working with many of these Kenyan CSOs as the DataShift transitions to implementation. Thank you to everyone who participated.