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Wanted: A Data Revolution

Jenny Poole
May 31, 2013

 

The newly released report by the High Level Panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to advise on the global development agenda after the 2015 millennium development goals (MDGs), looks at progress on the MDGs and examines the importance of social protection, tackling deep-rooted poverty, ending conflict and fostering sustainable development to radically reduce human suffering. The report also includes some great ideas about how sustainable development efforts can be improved in the decades to come. 

World We Want: people’s hopes and desires for a better world 

Accompanying the report is the relaunch of the World We Want site — a great interactive resource showing the results from nearly a year's worth of national and thematic consultations about development priorities, and early results from the United Nations MY World global survey of people's voices, priorities and views. This public engagement effort aims to inform global ­­leaders as they begin defining the new post-2015 development agenda for the world. The survey, which can be taken online, lists sixteen different issues to be addressed, from health to education to climate change, and asks people to determine their six top priorities.  

Global Pulse is contributing to the process of including citizens' voices and priorities by conducting social media analysis to identify the relevance of themes within public discourse, which are then mapped against the post-2015 priorities. You can explore more of the interactive charts here. 

High Level Panel calls for a data revolution 

Here at Global Pulse we’re pleased to see the prominence accorded to the need for better real-time information in the High Level Panel report section entitled ‘Wanted: A Data Revolution’: 

“Better data and statistics will help governments track progress and make sure their decisions are evidence-based; they can also strengthen accountability. This is not just about governments. International agencies, CSOs and the private sector should be involved. A true data revolution would draw on existing and new sources of data to fully integrate statistics into decision making, promote open access to, and use of, data and ensure increased support for statistical systems. ” (HLP Report, P23)  

The Panel calls for action steps including establishing a Global Partnership on Development Data that brings together interested stakeholders – government statistical offices, international organizations, CSOs, foundations and the private sector, noting:

 “This partnership would, as a first step, develop a global strategy to fill critical gaps, expand data accessibility, and galvanise international efforts to ensure a baseline for post-2015 targets is in place by January 2016. ” (HLP Report, P23)

UN Global Pulse supports this type of collaboration, and advocates the use of new sources of data. Our innovation labs work with private sector companies who make Big Data sets available to be analyzed for social good, so that comparing it against existing data - such as national statistics or official records - can generate timely insights for use by the development community. We call this contribution of data for public benefit Data Philanthropy and believe that the expansion of this kind of activity could truly unleash a revolution in the way we seek to support the most vulnerable citizens in our world.

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