Last week, Development Gateway participated in the M&E Tech Conference – moderating two panels and participating in a hands-on session. Below are highlights from each:
How Can We Leverage Open Data to Enhance Results?
DG’s Senior Director of Operations and Co-Executive Director of AidData Nancy McGuire Choi spearheaded a discussion with Kat Townsend (USAID), Chantale Wong (Independent), Rob Baker (Ushahidi), and Susan Stout (Georgetown).
- Consensus that open data is prompting a cultural shift but the revolution is about much more than just data and tech.
- Data demand currently stems from donors – we need to make data relevant for, and incentivize the usage of, data on the local decision-making level. Development agencies are small players in development; to make true progress, we need to understand who is empowered to do what within governments. USAID’s approach of “integrating new people into the conversation” searches out data advocates bu creating use cases and value propositions for end users.
- Data is political – to leverage open data for accountability, stakeholders need to recruit critics (i.e. press, thought leaders).
- We need to shift back to analysis – the focus on data standardization has lead to an emphasis on learning how to use tools; we need to learn how to read data, not how to use tools that process data. This has implications for the skills and profiles that are needed within donor agencies and in country, and hearkens back to the notion that this shift “back” will be disruptive for the development field.
- M&E means Motivation and Empowerment – we need to work with data users, not lecture at them.
What Can We Learn From GIS Data?
DG’s Director of Innovation Josh Powell moderated a panel session with Nate Heard (US Department of State, PEPFAR), Bill Dollins (Episcopal Relief and Development), and Erica Hagen (GroundTruth Initiative).
- Reports vs. results – we’re closing the gap between data usable for macro-level decisions and data relevant for ground-level prioritization.
- Inherent engagement – GIS data gets people excited, whether government stakeholders, practitioners, or citizens.
- Context is key – maps taken at face value can lead people to draw the wrong conclusions
- Appropriateness – there’s a fine line between confidentiality (important) and secrecy (political) GIS practitioners need to balance.
What’s Next in Visualizing Data for Better Decision Making?
Senior Associate Taryn Davis provided an overview of how GIS can help practitioners target, deliver, and evaluate aid more effectively.
- Maps provide an easily interpretable snapshot of Who What Where – avoiding duplication or over-concentration of development projects and allowing for better analysis of where need is concentrated.
- More and more countries using DG’s AMP have the capacity to geocode data for internal and external use.
- Tailoring data granularity is important – the use case will define how granular you need to go.
- There is a lot more to be done in terms of using GIS for decision making – to get the complete picture of development, we need to be able to show where government-development budgets are focused, and we need to improve skills for data analysis among all stakeholders.
Image source: www.mandetech.org
Representatives from Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG) will be attending the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) from September 5-9 in Kigali, Rwanda to highlight two projects: the Visualizing Insights on African Agriculture (VIFAA) project and the Farmer-Centric Data Governance Models project.
In Episode 2 of "Data…for What?!," a podcast series from Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG) which explores our new strategic plan, Josh Powell met with experts from DG and IREX to discuss DG’s expansion into the education, media and disinformation, and youth sectors. The conversations explore the most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities for data and technology to positively impact these sectors and discuss how these trends are likely to play out in the years ahead. Based on these trends, the experts explain the unique fit for DG’s skills and specific opportunities for collaboration that align with the vision of DG’s partnership with IREX, which has a long and successful history working in each sector.
To help contextualize the new Strategic Plan, we are launching a podcast series called Data… for What?! This series consists of 5 episodes in Josh Powell and Vanessa Goas talk to DGers throughout the organization – as well as collaborators within our strategic partner, IREX - about how and why we prioritized the various elements of the new strategy. In this first episode, we talk to Kristin Lord, President and CEO of IREX about how our partnership fits into the Strategic Plan; and to Aleks Dardelli, Executive Vice President of IREX and Chair of DG’s Board of Directors, about the process of putting the Plan together at this opportune, yet precarious, global moment.