Paraguay launches first digital platform to manage national water resources

Versión en español aquí 

Launching today is Paraguay’s first Water Information System (WIS), an online portal designed to make data and information about water quality, water access, and sanitation levels a public good. The project’s aim is to lead to meaningful improvements in people’s lives, in terms of disease prevention, access to potable water, and environmental protection. 

Climate Action Lab announced at U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in support of Kenya’s data-driven climate ambition

Around 4.3 million Kenyans have been impacted by ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa—the worst climate event in the region in four decades, Kenya’s First Lady told a group of business leaders and government officials convened by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (Global Partnership) and the United AI Alliance recently.

You're the one with the power to make change.

This post was originally published September 26, 2022 on the Data Values Digest.

Defining moments in society are sometimes clear and easy to pinpoint, from election nights to the signing of global agreements. But more often, we’re only able to spot moments of transformative change—moments when we say “enough is enough” and awareness turns to action—with hindsight. 

That’s because creating change depends on each of us deciding to act. “Don't think you're powerless. It's people who change policy,” says Gwen Phillips, a Ktunaxa data sovereignty advocate, in her Data Values Voices story.

Across the world, more people than ever are questioning the ways that data shapes their lives. Many governments and organizations are reckoning with the ethical implications of their everyday data decisions. From communities generating their own data to governments and marginalized groups working together to reshape how official statistics reflect the groups’ needs, there are ever more examples that a different approach to data is possible.

Our experience in the Data Values Project has made it obvious that momentum is building to redefine data systems to be equitable and inclusive. Over the last year, the Data Values movement has grown to involve over 350 people across 60 countries. In just a few days, over 150 community activists from 30 countries applied to become a Data Values Advocate. Data Values Digest posts are now read by more than 2,000 people each month since this publication launched just over a year ago.

Put simply, we now know what needs to change. As a community united by a common desire to challenge power structures in data systems, we’ve developed a shared vision for a fairer data future and a pathway to achieving it in the #DataValues Manifesto—which we launched last week. Along with it, we also launched a global Data Values campaign to push for the urgent action required to create a fairer data future. Anyone, anywhere, can join us. 

History shows that people—when they can speak up, organize, and engage—can hold their leaders and institutions accountable, pushing them to fulfill their promise to serve the common good. It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of rapid technological change, but we can achieve the #DataValues agenda together. 

Each of us must act to create this change. We must advocate for leaders to take up the Data Values Manifesto and shift power to people. And we can each rethink and change our data practices so that they help rather than harm, include rather than exclude. We can urge our organizations and communities to do the same. 

I encourage you to make #DataValues your own. Each of us has the power to make this a defining moment for data and development. Together, we can ensure it is. 

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Do you have time to answer the same questions again?

This blog post is re-posted with permission from the Data Values Digest

“Aap log kal hi to aye the na sawal jawab ke liye?” Laxmi* said when I asked whether she would participate in a survey. “Didn’t you just come yesterday for the interview?” 

“No, that wasn’t us,” I replied. Laxmi was one of our sampled respondents for a quantitative baseline survey in 2016 in the Madhya Pradesh state of India for an academic research project on women’s political and social empowerment. 

The day before I arrived, Laxmi had been interviewed by a different organization asking similar questions. This is a common occurrence in rural villages in India where household members—and especially women—are interview subjects of academic and private research groups, government, and non-governmental organizations.

According to governmental policy think tank NITI Aayog, there are 81 All India Surveys (nation-wide surveys on all topics), 70 percent percent of which were or continue to be conducted by government agencies. Ten surveys are collected annually. Of these, four cover topics related to demography and health. This list, which was published in mid-2021, does not account for surveys conducted by academic or private research organizations.

An employee of PRADAN, a non-governmental organization based in India, told me in a phone conversation last month that he estimated at least ten surveys are conducted in any rural village in India every year.

Most of these surveys share the same questionnaire or similar parts of a questionnaire such as the frequently-used Demographic and Health Survey’s section on women’s empowerment. PRADAN conducts a women’s empowerment survey in the villages where they work at least once a year. As a research associate with J-PAL South Asia between 2016 and 2018, I conducted surveys with empowerment questions twice in 2016 and once in 2017. These surveys are on average 45-60 mins long. 

The burden of answering survey questions doesn’t fall equally on members of a household. In about 80 percent of household surveys, the respondents are women. For example, in the National Family and Health Survey conducted between 2020 and 2021, 724,115 (88 percent) women were surveyed compared to 101,839 men (12 percent).

Surveys are extremely important. They provide representative facts, views, and opinions and help shape policy based on the needs of individuals and communities. However, there are certain problems with conducting repeated large-scale surveys in the same communities with the same individuals, especially for women. 

The problems with repeatedly surveying the same people

Firstly, this practice shows that surveying organizations place extraordinarily little value on the time of women who are already burdened with household chores, agricultural and farm work, and childcare responsibilities. Of course, consent is obtained before each survey. However, research shows that women—especially those in patriarchal and rural areas—have a tough time saying “no,” especially to an outsider who represents a figure of authority. Time spent responding to surveys is not spent on fulfilling her duties as a mother, daughter-in-law, and wife and can lead to backlash in the form of verbal and physical abuse. 

Secondly, direct benefits of these surveys to the respondents are often either non-existent or hard to quantify. Sometimes individuals are offered payment for their time, but this doesn’t necessarily address the problems that the survey has identified. Even when there is a long-term benefit to a community, research takes years to publish and policies require time to take effect. Meanwhile, a woman who is asked the same “time-use” questions again and again still spends the same amount of time doing the same chores that are considered to be a woman’s responsibility.

The third issue with repeated surveys is the risk of response bias. Response bias refers to the ways respondents may be unduly influenced when providing answers on a survey. This can lead to survey errors causing serious threats to the internal validity of the data and any research published using these data. “Oh, I know the answer to that question,” Rani* grinned when I asked how often she went to the panchayat (village council) meeting. “People like you asked me the same questions a few months ago.”

The dilemma at the heart of this problem

There are two important reasons why the same questions are asked repeatedly by different organizations. First, even though most journals and funders require manuscript authors to share their data, most do not do so for various reasons. The lack of open data sharing is a major cause of repeated information gathering. 

Secondly, organizations that share data are held to extremely high standards of maintaining confidentiality by Institutional Review Boards (commonly known as IRBs). To maintain privacy of individuals, these organizations publish data removing any sort of information that would reveal the personal identity of the interviewee. If another organization needs data with some personal identifiers for any reason such as merging two datasets or identifying areas where policies were enacted, the only option is conduct their own survey research and own the new dataset. Hence, they must embark on another data gathering expedition. 

This creates a huge dilemma between valuing time or valuing privacy! Is there a solution that can find a balance between valuing both?

What can be done?

Better collaboration is key to addressing this problem. Surveying organizations are usually hired to conduct surveys and may not have capacity or authority to coordinate with other organizations. While there are opportunities to collaborate among agencies which hire these organizations (and indeed a UN agency exists to address this), one of the most efficient and feasible solutions (and one which is already in place albeit more in paper than in action) is data sharing or open data.

Where personally identifiable information is not required, manuscript authors, researchers, government, and non-governmental organizations are frequently required to publicly share their data. In most cases, they are required to make the data available on request or share it on repositories. If the dataset is not publicly available or authors do not share the data on request, as happens in many instances, serious actions should be taken against them. The process of data compiling, sharing, and accessibility should be streamlined. This will go a long way in reducing repeated information gathering. 

Another possible solution could be to create independent entities at the local level to keep an inventory of any survey done in any village in the area. Let us, for example, assume that villages A, B, C, D are under the purview of local entity X. If an organization wants to conduct a survey in villages A and B, it would have to register the survey with all the details about the type of survey with X. With this system in place, if another survey organization wanted to conduct a similar survey in A, then X can ask them to contact the first organization to see if they could come to a data sharing agreement. If data sharing is not possible due to any reason, X can ask them to conduct surveys in areas C or D to avoid repeatedly surveying the same areas.

While maintaining privacy has been an important goal in the field of data collection up to this point, valuing respondent’s time has not. If we want to empower individual respondents and make policies to benefit them through collecting data from them, it is our responsibility as data collectors to respect respondents’ time. Otherwise, can we really claim we are doing the right, fair, and equitable thing?

 

 

*Names have been changed to maintain the privacy of respondents.

Jasleen Kaur is a PhD Candidate at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a Population Research trainee at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research aims to improve the social, economic, and political status of women. She focuses on the "implementation science" of policies and programs meant to empower women. Kaur has previously worked with J-PAL South Asia and Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where she was involved with hands-on monitoring and evaluation of gender livelihood and maternal health projects respectively. Follow her on Twitter and Linkedin or send her an email.

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The future we want: Young African leaders on a fairer data future

Lack of access to data is a key concern among young data scientists in Africa. That’s what we learned at a recent community of scientists event organized by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (the Global Partnership) and the African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS)

In the past decade, data has risen to the top of national and global policy agendas, yet “progress towards effective data governance, and to realizing the public value of data, remains highly uneven across countries, regions and sectors,” according to the Global Data Barometer. Within the African continent, the 22 countries analyzed by the Barometer score below global averages in data availability, capabilities, governance, use, and impact. However, significant opportunities to develop a stronger data economy exist, and a generation of young data leaders and data scientists stand ready to create a data- and AI-driven future.

Concerns and challenges for the data economy in Africa

During the event, young data scientists and data leaders from 18 countries raised three concerns: limited availability and access to data, lack of skills, and inadequate privacy frameworks. 

Despite some progress and the many investments made by the data for development community in the past decade, availability and access to data remain uneven. Access to data is particularly challenging in domains such as economic, transportation, and population statistics and energy data. The experience of AIMS’ community of scientists suggests that key datasets from public and private sectors are simply not available or not accessible, confirming  findings from the Global Data Barometer that availability and access to data are the biggest obstacles for the use of data for public good in Africa.

Lack of skills and weak privacy frameworks and practices are also concerns among emerging young African data scientists. This includes both the absence of adequate technical knowledge among workers and the lack of understanding from decision makers concerning many aspects of the data economy. 

As legislation is also fragmented and, when present, difficult to implement, data privacy is also perceived as a considerable obstacle for data use. The Global Data Barometer “identified gaps with respect to data protection or privacy standards in a number of [African] countries,” noting that the “absence of strong legal frameworks alongside new technological advancements seems to be a developing concern.” 

The best thing we can do for the next generation is to put in place a better architecture for data processing and teach them how to use it.

- Event participant

Describing a fairer data future

Looking forward, the AIMS community of scientists describes a fairer and value-driven data future on the continent as one in which data is accessible and user data is protected.

Young data scientists put accessibility at the center of a fair data future. A fairer data economy is a space where access to data is more equally distributed as a basic right. More equitable access to data should be coupled with protections for individuals’ (or users’) data and sound data management systems. Transparency, regulation and policy, and data privacy and security complete the picture. 

These values are guiding principles for the AIMS community of scientists. Eight-five percent of participants declared that they always think about these values in their work with data. Young data scientists and leaders are already putting their values into practice and operating to change the status quo. 

What will it take to make this change?

To move towards a value-driven data economy, everyone needs to act.

Governments should create enabling environments for a fairer data economy by increasing skills and capabilities within and outside of the public sector through further investments in data education, defining regulatory and non regulatory frameworks and policies, and collaborating with private partners, universities, and others to improve access to data. They should also collaborate internally to centralize data from the public sector instead of working in data silos, with each administration keeping their datasets locked up. 

Governments should work towards democratizing data access and share the data that is currently locked for political or other reasons.

- Event participant

The private sector should also invest in training and educating workers, hiring and retaining data scientists in Africa, increasing access to data and accountability toward the public concerning data use, and partnering with the public sector to foster innovation.

The private sector should focus on solving real life problems of Africans.

- Event participant

Finally, young data scientists and leaders also have an important role to play. They should pay the utmost attention to privacy when developing new systems, look out for potential harms, especially in the context of AI, focus on African problems that need to be solved and use African data to address them, develop more inclusive data solutions and share knowledge and experience broadly to increase data literacy of the population. 

As there is a role for everyone and everyone needs to act, the participants of the event called for a multi-stakeholder partnership approach to moving the needle and improving the outlook of the data economy in Africa. 

A #DataValues agenda

Young African data scientists and data leaders from the AIMS community of scientists have a clear vision of what a fair, value-driven data economy should look like in Africa and what needs to be done to get there.

The Data Values Project is an opportunity to build a movement for change and mobilize African youth towards these objectives. While the objectives put forward by the Data Values Project are universal, they also need to be rooted in the local contexts and local stakeholders need to appropriate them. In Africa, fairness in availability and access to data remains a core concern for the youngest generation. Addressing these unequal access opportunities goes hand-in -hand with implementing the #DataValues agenda on agency, accountability and data in action.  

This article is based on an event on the 16th of June in the context of the Data Values Project in which the Global Partnership and the African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS) organized an event for the AIMS community of scientists, gathering young data scientists, students and future data leaders from 18 African countries. Our objective with this event was to ask them what are the data values that are closer to their heart and how we can build a future where data is used to do good and not to harm. The AIMS community of scientists took this opportunity to tell us about their concerns, aspirations and the actions that need to be taken to build a fairer data economy in Africa.

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Data Values Project white paper consultation: feedback and responses

The Data Values white paper, Reimagining Data and Power: A roadmap for putting values at the heart of data, is based on contributions from more than 350 individuals from 63 countries who contributed during a year-long consultation. More than 100 people weighed in on an early draft of the white paper published in May 2022 for public consultation. 

The table below summarizes the feedback and the steps taken to incorporate it into the final version of the Data Values white paper. We extend our gratitude to every individual who shared insights, expertise, and valuable time to improve this white paper.

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Developing a “stronger common vision” for data equity

This blog post was originally published in the Data Values Digest on June 21 here

The data for development community needs a stronger common vision for data ethics, rights, and governance, according to a recent survey in which nearly 90 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.*

From the #RestoreDataRights movement in Africa to calls from national statisticians in Latin America, there’s growing awareness that data and tech are powerful tools that can either address or entrench inequalities. Change is needed to ensure we’re on course to use them in ways that improve lives—rather than making people who are already marginalized even worse off.

This is what led to the creation of the Data Values Project (and this publication) more than a year ago. A year in, there’s clear consensus on the need to shift power structures in data. How has the Data Values Project contributed to this shift? Results from the Global Partnership’s annual survey show how sharing knowledge is helping to build a movement for change. This week, we’re dropping in to discuss these results and how they fit into the past year of open consultation. 

In the survey of partner organizations (including governments, NGOs, international civil society organizations, academia, and more), 85 percent of people said that exposure to new ideas has been the most valuable part of the Data Values Project so far. 

These aren’t exactly “new” ideas. Contributions have emerged from the lived experiences of our contributors and rigorous analysis and research from our partners, many of whom have been working on these issues for decades. These are people like Data4Change’s Bronwen Robertson, who spoke passionately about building data confidence, and Gwen Phillips of the Ktunaxa Nation, who explained how data has been used in ways that disempower Indigenous communities. 

More than 300 people from 63 countries have contributed to the search to better understand what should characterize just data systems. We’ve heard from people around the world about what’s working and what’s not. Data Values Project contributors have explained how giving local communities power to design data and share insights with decision makers can create positive change, what it really takes to put values of inclusion and equity into action, and how to foster participatory data governance. Contributors have also addressed some of the tensions in this movement, as when Martina Barbero wrote about trade-offs between privacy and security and Josh Powell warned of the threats to Afghans of development agencies’ collection and use of data. 

Unlocking the power of data to create positive social change while protecting people from harm is obviously a key concern of the data for development community. Consultations in the Data Values Project indicate that including people in designing data systems and in decisions about how data is managed are important, as are cultures of transparency and data sharing among governments and organizations. You can read more about these ideas in the Data Values Projectnwhite paper, a final version of which is set for publication in July. 

As the survey demonstrated, sharing knowledge is a pivotal component of shifting power in data and practices. The power and potential for change of the Data Values Project comes front the breadth of perspectives it brings together. That’s why we’re asking you to join us by sharing your ideas and joining the movement. Email us at DataValues@data4sdgs.org with ideas for contributions and sign up for our mailing list to learn more about ways to get involved in the Data Values Project. 

 

*About the annual survey: Each year, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data asks its more than 600 partners for feedback through its annual partner survey. Data reported here are based on the 2021 annual partner survey’s 132 responses. The majority of respondents (41 percent) in this year’s survey were from government partners. Non-governmental and multilateral organizations made up the second and third largest groups of respondents at 24 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Explore the full, anonymized dataset here.

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Making pizza without dough: the state of funding for data

It's that time of year again when leaders get together at the United Nations to assess progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. Data to monitor and to achieve the Goals is quite rightly in the spotlight. So it’s worth asking: How are development partners doing in supporting countries to get the data they need? 

The picture is mixed. 

In data for development, we’re good at funding projects and products. Inspired by the promise of new technologies, lots of money is going to build new things. We were all grateful for the impressive platforms that showed us COVID-19 trends. The climate challenge, too, has spurred the creation of thousands of digital tools (like this one to track deforestation) and data platforms based on ever more sophisticated sources and methods. There are lots of solutions out there. But solutions only solve a problem when they are put to work.  

It’s like we’re making pizza, and the money is all going toward the cheese before we’ve started kneading the dough. Despite investment in data tools and platforms to solve just about every global challenge, four in ten deaths around the world aren’t registered, and only one in six countries has enough data to report on agreed climate targets. People trying to build their national systems and link data to day-to-day decision making in governments are struggling to get the resources they need. We are building shiny tools on very shaky foundations. 

One of the reasons for this mismatch is, of course, the money. First off, there’s not enough of it: Official development assistance for data and statistics has flatlined, as tracked by the invaluable PRESS report issued every year by Paris21. And, on top of that, existing funds are not always spent well. Since 2020, in response to COVID-19, donor support to health data grew to more than a third of all funding for data and statistics. This came at the expense of other sectors where support fell from a fifth to less than a tenth of total official development assistance for data and statistics.

This shows all too clearly the pick-and-mix approach often taken to funding data. Donors frequently support a specific sector, collect specific information they need, or invest in the latest new technology—not in ways that build systems as a whole. This could mean funding a survey on COVID-19 prevalence, for example, but not investing in a robust system for registering deaths. It’s creating a new platform to visualize climate data without investing to ensure the data within it is reliable. And this isn’t just about donors—governments often fail to prioritize data in national spending, finding it more politically attractive to fund things that are more tangible to their electorates. 

The net result is uncertainty and fragmentation, where country data priorities are hostage to what donors think is important and where huge opportunities are missed to create efficiencies and develop systems that can be the foundation of modern data architecture. 

None of this is new. We’ve been talking about it for a long time even as a few far-sighted donors and governments have been quietly showing us how to do it. Finally, others may be catching up. The urgency of tracking COVID-19 and the reality of climate change have shown all too starkly what happens when good data isn’t available to guide policy and change minds. As Ghana’s Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia* explained at the World Bank Spring meetings this year: 

“Many governments do not really prioritize data collection because, traditionally, voters don't care about it. That is now changing. With pandemics, economic and food security issues, you have to use data to know where you are, act fast, and prove you are delivering for the people. Our view is that strengthening data systems can enable considerable economic returns by making programs more efficient by better targeting resources, by strengthening transparency, and by reducing waste.”

One of the key elements in the #DataValues agenda is action: We all need to be thinking about how data can drive action to respond to critical global challenges.  We’re witnessing an opportunity to finally get political momentum on this critical issue. The next stop will be the UN General Assembly in September, where it’s time for leaders to step up and show they mean business when it comes to data by making new commitments to invest in systems.

Rather than relying on a single platform or tool, a broad base of data skills need to be built across governments. We need meaningful investments in better connectivity, data storage, and hardware that make using new tools and platforms feasible. Above all, we need leaders who are confident with new technologies and motivated to ensure they are governed for the benefit of all, leaders who know how to ask the right questions, understand what data they do and don’t need, and how to use it. 

More funding for systems means all these amazing new platforms and tools will be used where they are needed most: by governments and civil society organizations saving money and making better and faster decisions at the sharp end of global crises. Data is worthless if it is not used to drive action, and all our tools and platforms will founder without the basic investments that enable them to be used. 

*Vice-President Bawumia serves as a board member at the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

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Advancing dialogue on data governance in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Data governance speaks to who has authority and control over data and how that data may be used, but the term means different things to people and is far from straightforward in practice. As one participant in an initial conversation in a series of regional dialogues explained, “the question is how to embed democracy” in data governance. 

Statistical offices in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are increasingly confronting the need to establish data governance frameworks amidst rapid technological change, emerging data demands, and heightened concerns around privacy. Officials across the region are seeking to find their place in a widening ecosystem of data demand, production, and use. 

Sharing knowledge and ideas among data producers and users is the first step to navigating fast-evolving data ecosystems and reconsidering remits, practices, and responsibilities. Strengthening regional collaboration is critical to building clarity around data governance and addressing the complexity and urgency of these issues.  

In November, leaders from the statistical offices of Colombia and the Dominican Republic, civil society organizations, and research institutions exchanged perspectives on data governance during a side event of the Eleventh Statistical Conference of the Americas. Their discussion surfaced some of the key challenges and recommendations that will help guide further conversations among regional leaders. 

Outdated laws, low levels of trust, and limited resources

Out-of-date and weak legal mandates hinder statistical offices’ ability to advance data governance. Statistical legislation often dates back years and is out of step with the latest technological developments and the emerging data economy. These types of laws limit national statistical offices’ ability to be at the forefront of data governance and coordinate across the data ecosystem. In cases where it is not possible to change the legal framework in the near term, statistical offices are taking steps to align with national strategies and make data governance more central within these strategies. 

The lack of strong legal frameworks to promote statistical offices’ technical independence has implications for the perceived trustworthiness of official statistics. The absence of a clear mandate, scope, and limitations for statistical offices as the stewards of national statistical systems has made it difficult to build trust among the new users and members of the data ecosystem. Participants highlighted that promoting a culture of efficiency and innovation within statistical offices can help to bolster trust in the institution.

Participants from national statistical offices also explained that they face an increasing imbalance between demands and resources. Statistical offices' institutional capacities and resources are rarely keeping pace with increasing expectations and demands of new data producers and users and rapidly evolving discussions around data governance. 

The way forward

Data producers need to ensure that data represents the interests of data subjects - the people providing data. “Our role is to ground data governance frameworks in reality with a bottom-up approach,” Julia Zulver of Ladysmith explained. 

Participants pointed to promising developments and approaches to shared challenges, emphasizing the importance of localizing norms and frameworks, enhancing transparency, and fostering collaboration. The following ideas emerged from the discussion:

1. Data privacy must be tailored to meet local needs and political contexts.

Privacy concerns and individuals’ expectations about how governments will use their data vary across countries. For example, tax declarations of all individuals are publicly-available records in Nordic countries, but this is not the norm in LAC. The specific privacy context and the preferences of individuals towards their data require tailored approaches and solutions.  

Fabrizio Scrollini, Executive Director of La Iniciativa Latinoamericana por los Datos Abiertos (ILDA), emphasized at the event that we must go beyond considering privacy at the individual level to recognize this as a community issue and a collective phenomenon. This is especially important when considering historically marginalized groups and the potential risks of further discrimination through data practices.

2. Promoting transparency and inclusive data governance systems builds public trust and credibility.

Patricio del Boca, Senior Software Developer at the Open Knowledge Foundation, highlighted that statical offices should improve transparency on data, methodologies, and processes to foster greater use of data and strengthen citizens’ trust in governments to collect, access, and use their information. Without transparency in both the data itself and the processes of data collection and analysis, he explained, a lack of credibility prevents data use.

National statistics offices can also increase trust by adopting reciprocal data governance models, instead of extractive ones. Reciprocal models involve collecting data from various sources (public and private) while also giving back to those data providers. This approach has helped ONE in the Dominican Republic gain access to meteorological and water data. In exchange, ONE is strengthening the data skills of the data producers and helping them reorganize and update their data collection processes and databases. 

3. Multi-stakeholder collaboration is critical to realizing equity and inclusion through data governance.

In working with women in vulnerable situations, Ladysmith Senior Researcher Julia Zulver acknowledged that data collection can expose people to harm. To protect data subjects, she explained that it is important to avoid collecting data for the sake of data itself. Instead, data collection should have a specific purpose and be tied to concerns and changes that affected communities wish to address. This aim requires researchers to co-design programs and work closely with grassroots organizations to ensure that data addresses the needs of communities and is used to amplify the voices of people who are data subjects.

Juan Daniel Oviedo, Director General of Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), explained that DANE has a legal and constitutional mandate to improve the visibility of minorities in statistical production and has worked closely with sectoral ministries to achieve this. This requires considering not only how statistical offices respond to new mandates but also how other actors in the national statistical system are engaged. 

The aim of data governance must speak to the specific needs of people at the heart of data and provide a framework for protecting and sharing data for public good. As Patricio del Boca from Open Knowledge Foundation explained, working together to create data ecosystems and governance frameworks helps improve the quality of and access to data for public good.

Sustaining regional collaboration

International and regional dialogue and collaboration are critical as national statistical offices progress into a new realm of shaping data governance frameworks, while maintaining confidentiality, privacy, and data quality. 

Over the coming months, DANE and the Global Partnership will continue exploring data governance and related issues with actors across LAC through a series of activities, including:

  • Creating opportunities for LAC leadership, consultation, and engagement in the Data Values Project, a policy consultation and advocacy campaign that aims to unlock the value of data for all.
  • Reinvigorating partnerships between cities, local organizations, and national-level actors to jointly assess and rethink how data governance can enable policy solutions.
  • Delving into new frameworks, concepts, and experiences through a new working group on data stewardship under the Statistical Conference of the Americas - United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and strengthening knowledge exchange with the UN Data Stewardship Working Group, under the joint leadership of DANE and Statistics Poland.
  • Fostering regional and South-to-South knowledge exchanges on inclusive, intersectional, and participatory data practices through the Inclusive Data Charter.

We look forward to collaborating with a breadth of organizations across the region and welcome ideas and feedback. Get in touch at datavalues@data4sdgs.org.

 

Camilo Mendez and Daniel Peñaranda from Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) and Jenna Slotin and Fredy Rodriguez from the Global Partnership contributed to this blog post.

Notes: Colombia’s National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) and the Global Partnership are bringing together statisticians, researchers, and activists across Latin America and the Caribbean to explore the norms that should guide data governance and the role of national statistics offices. This regional dialogue will feed into a global policy and advocacy process – the Data Values Project

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Bolívar Square in Bogotá, Colombia. Credit: Mltz (https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Mltz).
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Avanzando en el diálogo sobre la gobernanza de datos en América Latina y el Caribe

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La gobernanza de datos habla de quién tiene autoridad y control sobre los datos y a la forma en que estos pueden ser utilizados, pero el término tiene diferentes significados y dista de ser claro en su aplicación. Como explicó un participante en la conversación inicial de una serie de diálogos regionales, "la cuestión es cómo integrar la democracia" en la gobernanza de los datos.

Las oficinas de estadística de América Latina y el Caribe (ALC) cada vez más se enfrentan a la necesidad de establecer marcos de gobernanza de datos en medio del rápido cambio tecnológico, las nuevas necesidades de información, aunado a una creciente preocupación en torno a la privacidad de los datos. Representantes  de la región están buscando encontrar su lugar en el creciente ecosistema de demanda, producción y uso de datos.

Compartir conocimientos e ideas entre los proveedores y usuarios de datos es el primer paso para navegar por los cambiantes ecosistemas de datos y replantearse sus competencias, prácticas y responsabilidades. El fortalecimiento de la colaboración regional es fundamental para crear mayor claridad en torno a la gobernanza de los datos y abordar la complejidad y la urgencia de estas cuestiones. 

En noviembre, líderes de las oficinas de estadística de Colombia y República Dominicana, organizaciones de la sociedad civil e instituciones de investigación intercambiaron perspectivas sobre la gobernanza de datos durante un evento paralelo de la Undécima Conferencia Estadística de las Américas. El debate puso de manifiesto algunos de los principales retos y recomendaciones que ayudarán a orientar las futuras conversaciones entre los líderes regionales.

Los institutos de estadística se enfrentan a leyes obsoletas, bajos niveles de confianza pública y recursos limitados.

Los marcos legales obsoletos y débiles obstaculizan la capacidad de las oficinas de estadísticas para avanzar en la gobernanza de los datos. A menudo, la legislación estadística se remonta a años atrás y está desfasada respecto a los últimos avances tecnológicos, así como a la emergente economía de los datos. Este tipo de leyes limita la capacidad de los institutos nacionales de estadística para estar a la vanguardia de la gobernanza de datos y coordinarse en todo el ecosistema de datos. En los casos en los que no es posible cambiar el marco jurídico a corto plazo, los institutos de estadística están tomando medidas para alinearse con las estrategias nacionales y hacer que la gobernanza de los datos ocupe un lugar más central dentro de estas estrategias.

Además, la falta de marcos jurídicos sólidos que promuevan eficazmente la independencia técnica de los institutos de estadística repercute en la percepción de confianza sobre las estadísticas oficiales. La ausencia de un mandato definido, de un ámbito de aplicación y de limitaciones para las oficinas estadísticas como administradores de los sistemas estadísticos nacionales ha dificultado la creación de confianza entre los nuevos usuarios y miembros del ecosistema de datos. Los participantes destacaron que la promoción de una cultura de la eficiencia y la innovación dentro de las oficinas estadísticas podría contribuir a reforzar la confianza en la institución.

Los participantes de las oficinas nacionales de estadística también explicaron que se enfrentan a un creciente desequilibrio entre las demandas y los recursos. Las capacidades y los recursos institucionales de las oficinas de estadística rara vez están a la altura de las crecientes expectativas y demandas de los nuevos productores y usuarios de datos , así como de la rápida evolución de los debates en torno a la gobernanza de los datos.

El camino a seguir

Los productores de datos deben asegurarse de que los datos representen los intereses de los sujetos de los datos, es decir, las personas que los proporcionan. "Nuestro papel es basar los marcos de gobernanza de datos en la realidad con un enfoque ascendente", explicó Julia Zulver, de Ladysmith.

Los participantes señalaron desarrollos y enfoques prometedores para los desafíos compartidos, acentuando la importancia de localizar las normas y los marcos, mejorar la transparencia y fomentar la colaboración. A continuación, se presentan las ideas principales que fueron el resultado del diálogo sostenido:

1. La privacidad de datos debe adaptarse a las necesidades locales y a los contextos políticos.

La preocupación sobre la privacidad cambia entre países y las expectativas de los individuos sobre el uso de sus datos por parte de los gobiernos son variables. Por ejemplo, en los países nórdicos las declaraciones de impuestos de todos los individuos son registros de acceso público, pero esto no es la norma en los países de AL&C. El contexto específico de la privacidad y las preferencias de los individuos hacia sus datos requieren de enfoques y soluciones a la medida. 

Fabrizio Scrollini, Director Ejecutivo de La Iniciativa Latinoamericana por los Datos Abiertos (ILDA), destacó en el evento que se debe ir más allá de la consideración de la privacidad a nivel individual para reconocerla como una cuestión comunitaria y un fenómeno colectivo. Esto es especialmente importante cuando se consideran los grupos históricamente marginados y los riesgos potenciales de una mayor discriminación a través de las prácticas de datos. 

2. Promover la transparencia y los sistemas de gobernanza de datos inclusivos genera confianza y credibilidad pública.

Patricio del Boca, desarrollador de software senior de la Open Knowledge Foundation, destacó que las oficinas estadísticas deben mejorar la transparencia de datos, metodologías y procesos para fomentar un mayor uso de los datos y fortalecer la confianza de los ciudadanos en la recolección, acceso y uso de información por parte de los gobiernos. Sin transparencia, tanto en los datos, como en los procesos de recolección y análisis de estos, explicó, puede generarse una falta de credibilidad derivando en una obstaculización en el aprovechamiento de los datos.

Las oficinas nacionales de estadística también pueden aumentar la confianza adoptando modelos de gobernanza de datos recíprocos, en lugar de extractivos. Los modelos recíprocos implican la recopilación de datos de diversas fuentes (públicas y privadas) a la vez que se devuelven a esas fuentes de datos. Este enfoque ha ayudado a la ONE de la República Dominicana a obtener acceso a datos meteorológicos y sobre el agua. A cambio, la ONE refuerza las competencias de los productores de datos, y les ayuda a reorganizar y actualizar sus procesos de recolección de datos y sus bases de datos. 

3. La colaboración de múltiples actores interesados es fundamental para lograr la equidad y la inclusión a través de la gobernanza de los datos.

Al trabajar con mujeres en situaciones vulnerables, Julia Zulver, investigadora principal de Ladysmith, reconoció que la recolección de datos puede poner en peligro a las personas. Para proteger a los sujetos de datos, explicó que es importante evitar la recopilación de datos por el simple hecho de hacerlo. En su lugar, la recolección de datos debe tener una finalidad específica y estar vinculada a las preocupaciones y los cambios que las comunidades afectadas desean abordar. Este objetivo requiere que los investigadores co-diseñen programas y trabajen estrechamente con organizaciones de base para garantizar que los datos aborden las necesidades de las comunidades y se utilicen para amplificar las voces de las personas que son sujetos de datos.

Juan Daniel Oviedo, Director General del Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística (DANE) de Colombia, explicó que el DANE tiene el mandato legal y constitucional de mejorar la visibilidad de las minorías en la producción estadística y ha trabajado estrechamente con los ministerios sectoriales para lograrlo. Esto requiere considerar no sólo la forma en que las oficinas de estadística responden a los nuevos mandatos, sino también la forma en que se involucran otros actores del sistema estadístico nacional.

El objetivo de la gobernanza de los datos debe responder a las necesidades específicas de las personas que están en el centro de los datos y proporcionar un marco para protegerlos y compartirlos para el bien público. Como explicó Patricio del Boca, de la Open Knowledge Foundation, trabajar conjuntamente para crear ecosistemas de datos y marcos de gobernanza ayuda a mejorar la calidad y el acceso a los datos para el bien público. 

Mantener la colaboración regional

El diálogo, así como la cooperación regional e internacional, son fundamentales a medida que los institutos nacionales de estadística avanzan hacia un nuevo ámbito de configuración de los marcos de gobernanza de los datos, manteniendo al mismo tiempo la confidencialidad, la privacidad y la calidad de los datos.

En los próximos meses, el DANE y el GPSDD continuarán explorando la gobernanza de datos y temas relacionados con actores de toda ALC a través de una serie de actividades, incluyendo:

  • La creación de oportunidades para el liderazgo, la consulta y la participación de AL&C en el Data Values Project, una campaña de consulta e incidencia de política que tiene como objetivo desbloquear el valor de los datos para todos.
  • Reforzar las asociaciones entre ciudades, organizaciones locales y actores a nivel nacional para evaluar y replantear conjuntamente el modo en que la gobernanza de los datos puede permitir soluciones normativas.
  • Profundizar en nuevos marcos, conceptos y experiencias a través de un nuevo grupo de trabajo sobre la administración de datos (data stewardship) en el marco de la Conferencia Estadística de las Américas - Comisión Económica de las Naciones Unidas para América Latina y el Caribe, y reforzar el intercambio de conocimientos con el Grupo de Trabajo sobre la Administración de Datos de las Naciones Unidas, bajo el co-liderazgo del DANE y de Statistics Poland.
  • Fomentar los intercambios de conocimiento regionales y Sur-Sur sobre prácticas de datos inclusivas, interseccionales y participativas a través de la Carta de Datos Inclusivos (Inclusive Data Charter-IDC).

Deseamos colaborar con una amplia gama de organizaciones de toda la región y agradecemos las ideas y los comentarios. Póngase en contacto con nosotros en datavalues@data4sdgs.org.

 

Camilo Mendez y Daniel Peñaranda del Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística (DANE) de Colombia con Jenna Slotin y Fredy Rodriguez del Global Partnership contribuyeron a este blog.

Notas: El Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística (DANE) de Colombia y la Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, han reunido a estadísticos, investigadores y activistas de toda América Latina y el Caribe para explorar las normas que deberían orientar la gobernanza de datos y el quehacer de las oficinas nacionales de estadística. Este diálogo regional se integrará en un proceso global de política e incidencia: el Data Values Project.

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Daniel Peñaranda
Camilo Mendez
Fredy Rodriguez
Jenna Slotin
Landscape Image Caption
Bolívar Square in Bogotá, Colombia. Credit: Mltz (https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Mltz).
This is Global Content
On
Data that is well-governed
The Data Values Project
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