This is the text of a submission note prepared by me in response to the call from the Independent Expert Advisory Group on ‘data revolution and sustainable development’ of United Nations. It includes contributions from Tim Davies, Zacharia Chiliswa, and Gisele S. Craveiro.
It was submitted earlier today. The submitted document can be accessed here (PDF).
1. An Open Data Agenda for Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals
Data revolution’ has been one of the most remarkable categories of imagination and exploration to emerge from the report of the United Nation’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda . The identification of availability of data on the global status of human development as a key problem area is not surprising given the experiences of measuring, monitoring and implement the Millennium Development Goals. Nonetheless, the recommendation by the High Level Panel for massive restructuring of infrastructures for generating global, reliable, comparable, and timely data is significant.
A brief note prepared by the High Level Panel explains that the ‘data revolution’ has two key objectives: ‘1) the integration of statistics into public and private sector decision making; and 2) building trust between society and state through transparency and accountability’ . The note also lists nine strategic interventions required to achieve these objectives. Only one of which, however, addresses the second main objective.
This submission suggests that an accountable and transparent revolution of global collection and utilisation of data for sustainable development must embrace openness as a fundamental pre-condition of the data concerned. In other words, a data revolution for sustainable development must be based upon global collection, usage, and publication of open data (relevant for purposes of sustainable development).
The Independent Expert Advisory Group on ‘data revolution for sustainable development’ (henceforth, IEAG) has already addressed the question of open data through defining one of its consultation areas around the concept of ‘Accessible Data,’ which comprises of topics related to open data, accountability, and data literacy. This submission, however, proposes that open data must be considered as a cross-cutting principle and instrument of ensuring transparency, trust and security spanning all the constituent areas of the ‘data revolution’ — measuring of sustainable development goals, innovation through big data and new technologies, and addressing system challenges throughout the data landscape.
To reiterate, this submission finds the decision of the IEAG to dedicate an entire consultation area to ‘Accessible Data’ most encouraging and praiseworthy. However, it is necessary to simultaneously ensure that the concern for and transformative potential of open data is not contained within one consultation area within, but is discussed and deployed across the various aspects of the ‘data revolution.’
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