The development of institutionalized capacity building and training represents a core activity for many successful data sharing platforms within the development sector. Capacity-building and training programs can take different forms, from virtual training, as in the case of the Humanitarian Data Exchange, to data fellowships, such as the Global Partnership’s Data Science Fellowship Program, and frameworks and guidance documents like the Open Data for Social Impact Framework developed by the Microsoft Open Data Campaign.

While the focus on capacity building for data sharing is a clear driver of success, its importance varies depending on the type of stakeholders involved in the initiatives.

For instance, data sharing initiatives that work directly with national and local public sector organizations to inform decision-making are more likely to invest in capacity-building activities for these partners. This is because the initiative’s objective requires that the ability to use data is permanently embedded in the public sector organization’s functioning.

Capacity building for governmental organizations

In the context of the Global Fishing Watch platform, governments are both data providers and users of information. 

However, not all governments are at the same level in terms of being able to collect and share data or use the data available on the platform to inform decision-making. Therefore, GFW has adopted a conscious and structured approach to capacity building. 

GFW works with national governments to ensure their baseline capacity to collect and use the data concerning vessel-based human activity. GFW’s team collaborates with the relevant data officers to clean and standardize the datasets. Further, once the data has been analyzed, the team works with the government department to translate data trends to identify bad actors and inform enforcement action.

Furthermore, the landscape analysis suggests actors based in the Global South are more likely to focus on building local capacity. Within the landscape analysis, initiatives led by actors in the Global North were less likely to consider the direct, long-term benefits to actors within the Global South. Interviews indicate that actors based in the Global South are more concerned about addressing this skills imbalance through building internal capacity.

Capacity building in the context of South-South data partnerships

The Implementation Network for Sharing Population Information from Research Entities (INSPIRE) aims to build capacity among its partners and give credit to them for their work. To achieve this goal, it provides tools and services to the data producers that enhance data sharing, reproducibility, and ancillary data production processes. These tools also assist data producers in discovering, accessing, and appropriately using the shared data and metadata. In the coming years, INSPIRE aims to build in-house technical skills of data producers, which will enable them to participate in the extraction, transformation, and loading of data into common data models.