by Tawheeda Wahabzada
The goal of the Open Data Inventory (ODIN) is to help countries improve the coverage and openness of official statistics. Achieving this goal depends on strong country engagement. Recently, countries have shown increased commitment to making their data more open. Jamaica and Oman have invited Open Data Watch to conduct in-country training to identify ways to increase the openness their official statistics. Other countries have announced commitments to improving their statistics during high-profile international meetings, such as the UN Statistics Commission and the UN High Level Political Forum, using ODIN as a tool to monitor their progress. Most recently, 96 national statistical offices (NSOs) have confirmed their participation in the NSO review process for the 2018/2019 ODIN assessments.
Following an initial round of assessments by trained ODIN assessors, during which they identify available datasets on NSO websites, countries are invited to suggest additional datasets for the ODIN team to consider. The NSO review process facilitates mutual learning and understanding — the ODIN team gains a better understanding of the realities that NSOs face, and the NSOs better understand the ODIN methodology. This allows fully exploring what is needed for a complete and open set of official statistics. Furthermore, through the engagement, countries become invested in the outcome of ODIN assessments, making practical use of scores and seeking recommendations for improvements.
Although countries have this opportunity to participate in the ODIN assessment process, they do not have a say in the final scores. The purpose of the NSO review is to ensure that no qualifying dataset is overlooked. After reviewing country suggestions, the ODIN team assesses which datasets satisfy the criteria for data coverage and openness and then scores the results accordingly. The impartial scores serve as a guide to countries, signaling areas where they can make further improvements.
Country engagement has been a key part of ODIN work since the beginning, and each year, countries show increasing interest. In spring 2017, following the launch of the ODIN 2016, there was immediate engagement with countries such as Ecuador and Canada to better understand ODIN scores and to provide recommendations for improving their openness and coverage. As more NSOs expressed interest in participating, a new phase of research was implemented that invited countries to suggest additional data sets for the ODIN team to consider. As part of the 2017 ODIN assessments, 65 countries participated, and 48 ultimately provided feedback in this NSO review process. And now, for the 2018/2019 assessments, a total of 96 NSOs have confirmed their participation.
It’s exciting to observe the recognition of the usefulness of ODIN, along with the greater participation of countries, as this shows the commitment countries have for providing open data for development. With a complete and open set of official statistics, policy-makers can design better policies, citizens can be better informed, and the international community will be able to better monitor progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.