DataShift Strategic Planning Retreat

This two day event, held from 22-23 October 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya, brought together around 25 experts and organisations working on data and development, to help further clarify the purpose and objectives of the DataShift; begin mapping the global ‘ecosystem’ of data and development actors, initiatives and methodologies; explore options and priorities for implementing the five DataShift project streams; and build relationships with potential new partners.

Key lessons from the retreat:

  • There is an incredibly rich existing pool of data-related expertise and resources that the DataShift must tap into.
  • Given this rich pool of expertise and resources, the DataShift should primarily focus on increasing awareness of and accessibility to these existing initiatives and resources.
  • A DataShift theory of change should be developed to clearly articulate the objectives and change path of the initiative.  A draft of the theory of change should be shared with  strategic partners and other stakeholders for their input.
  • Further consultations are required with civil society organisations (CSOs) in pilot countries to determine their strengths, challenges and priorities, prior to the development of ‘demand-driven’ project streams.
  • A clear partnership framework needs to be developed to ensure clarity and coherence around the roles of different organisations in the design and implementation of the DataShift.

Full summary notes from the retreat are available here.

Corruption Comparability Workshop

The follow-up workshop to the 2 March, 2014 Data Expedition convened a group of technologists and data management experts to closely examine some of the comparability potentials, limitations, and issues which surfaced during the Expedition. Specifically, the discussion revolved around how CIVICUS and the DataShift project would be best placed in creating a more ideal comparability culture in citizen-led data. Suggestions included:

  • Using CIVICUS’ extensive civil society network to convene CSO forums to challenge official monitoring metrics and create people-powered alternatives
  • Supporting existing and new citizen reporting efforts by enabling access to resources, both financial and expert human capital
  • Strengthening and creating partnerships between organisations, overlapping data collection and analysis [efforts] (within and among SDG thematic areas), as well as linking citizen reporting and campaigning efforts around the globe
  • Developing methodology for data gathering manuals and investigation models to share best practices and create consistency among national data generators and users; this would allow for global comparability while ensuring that the national context is not ignored

Corruption Data Expedition, London

This hands-on workshop was the first of two consecutive workshops that used civil society corruption datasets to explore and analyse the Comparability element of the DataShift. Following the data expedition model established by the Open Knowledge Foundation’s School of Data, anti-corruption campaigners were asked to explore working with civil society corruption data, with the objective of testing the limits of comparability and analysis within existing datasets. While the corruption theme was chosen due to extensive existing data in the area (such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, I Paid a Bribe Kenya, Morocco – Mamdawrinch Reports), the workshop’s key outcomes are applicable while exploring post-2015 people-powered monitoring for all of the Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Data harmonization needs to be a rigorous process that considers differences in scope, geographic relevance and comparability, temporal coverage, and linguistic differences.
  • While creating data standards makes Comparability possible, collection may still be difficult; capacity building in data collection is crucial.
  • Data comparison can be an effective Campaigning tool to show a measured factor’s change over time, its correlation with other variables, and creating a vertical connection between local, national, regional, and global actors.

Gender Defenders Data Workshop, Istanbul

The workshop brought together organisations and activists involved in collecting and reporting evidence on gender-based violence, discrimination, and sexual harassment from across the globe. The thematic focus was based on the recent emergence of numerous advocacy platforms that make use of GBV and harassment data, such as Harassmap and Blank Noise. The one-day consultation tested the practical implications of the Coverage process: creating networks and future collaborations by identifying common standards, resources, and best practices for managing data across a variety of contexts and project modalities. Participants stressed

  • the importance of building bridges between various organisations, activists, and academia through convenings and in-depth network processes, including the role of CIVICUS as a civil society alliance.
  • the need to collaborate in methodologies and focus on harmonization, while emphasizing both anonymization and data security.
  • proper data collection methods as the basis for successful use of data in campaigning.

Click here for the Engine Room’s blog post detailing the event.

Accountability Workshop, Istanbul

This initial convening brought together a broad group of national campaigners, accountability organisations, practitioners, and policy makers for a two-day consultation on how to promote people-powered accountability in the post-2015 agenda and beyond. While the general aim was to understand the potential and limitations of technology in this area, the more specific goal was to gauge the perceived and practical validity of the “Coverage, Comparability, Campaigning” process. This initial feedback opportunity highlighted

  • the need for constant, consistent links between tech and development. Building in-house capacity to make effective use of technological tools in citizen-led data collection and monitoring was particularly emphasized.
  • the requirement of data standardization and consistent statistical validity for cross-national comparability.
  • additional challenges around the use of qualitative data and perception indicators in harmonization.
  • the power of effective vertical feedback loops in connecting high-level policy making efforts and grassroots accountability organisations

Click here for CIVICUS Secretary General Danny Sriskandarajah’s thoughts following the event.