In 2019, Open Data Watch (ODW) had its most eventful year yet. We expanded our efforts to provide technical assistance on open data to countries around the world. We launched new projects on gender data and microdata. We collaborated with new partners, such as the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and engaged more national statistical offices, as well as continuing to work with old friends like Data2X and PARIS21. Lastly, we expanded our staff and the ODW Board, increasing our capacity as an organization.
As we greet another year, we’d like to share a few highlights to look back on.
ODW expanding outreach around the world
This year, we continued to collaborate with national statistical offices to strengthen their open data strategies. We worked with more governments than ever before, offering in-country workshops and remote technical assistance on a variety of open data topics, while using the Open Data Inventory as a benchmark of progress. Through these partnerships, we identified opportunities to improve the availability and accessibility of governments’ official statistics. Some of our new country partners include Palestine, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Suriname, and the United Arab Emirates.
New microdata project – Access to Microdata (ATM)
Building on the success of past open data research, we launched the Access to Microdata pilot project. Our research explores current practices and looks for ways to increase microdata access and data usability while ensuring privacy and security concerns are addressed. Looking into expanding access to microdata has been a topic that several prominent researchers and data users have encouraged us to take on. Given the huge amount of resources countries and donors have invested in generating microdata, there is surprisingly little guidance on how to maximize their use. More data are needed to measure SDG indicators, and the untapped information in existing microdata could hold the key.
New gender data projects
We launched another new project, Bridging the Gap: Mapping Gender Data Availability in Africa, working with our close partner Data2X, to identify gaps in gender data needed to monitor SDG indicators in 15 African countries. Building on this research, we assembled country profiles with summary information and visualizations on data availability to disseminate the results of the 15 assessments to key stakeholders. These country profiles served as a resource for stimulating discussions with the national data focal points participating in the first meeting of the Gender Data Network – an exciting collaboration between Data2X and the African Centre for Statistics at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). As this work has received such a positive response, we are expanding our research into additional regions such as Latin America and Asia.
Our gender-related work with the Centre of Excellence at the IDRC expanded in 2019. Together we launched the Knowledge Brief Series on Gender and CRVS with two briefs, consisting of four papers each, published to date. The third and final brief will be available ahead of our upcoming two-day conference, ConVERGE: Connecting Vital Events Registration and Gender Equality in Ottawa on February 25 and 26. Our CRVS-gender research is revealing not only measurement and capacity issues that need to be addressed but also troublesome legal and social norms that stand in the way of leaving no one behind and gender equality.
New ODW Team and Board Members
To support our new projects and collaborations, we added two fantastic members to our team: Lorenz Noe as a Senior Data Analyst and Elettra Baldi as a Research Associate. We also enjoyed the contributions of a wonderful team of summer interns, including Niamh Evans, Iman Khosrodad, and Philippe Larsson. And further strengthening ODW as an organization, we expanded the ODW Board to include a total of eight members. Together they provide strategic input, oversight, and accountability to ensure the achievement of ODW’s mission.
We look forward to expanding our efforts further in 2020. We will continue to advocate for open data leading to better official statistics, to identify and fill gender data gaps, and to provide support for financing the data revolution. And we will continue our research farther along the data value chain to uncover more evidence of the impact of open data. We have a lot of work to build on and more on the way.