Feb. 14, 2014 – Andrea Titus
“Wanted: A New Data Revolution.” Such was the call issued by the United Nations High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda last year, no doubt in response to the two defining features of the current data landscape in development policy. The first is the dubious accuracy of national and official statistics that currently serve as the foundation of evidence for decisionmaking. The second is the rapid rise of technologies, social media, and crowdsourcing capabilities that have the potential to unlock new sources of data that are, at least on face, appealingly transparent and participatory.
When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established at the start of the century, they placed a new focus on the importance of measurable development indicators on a global scale. From the start, however, there have been serious concerns about the quality of the data we use to assess progress towards the MDGs, much of which relies on infrequent censuses and extrapolation, filtered through national governments. As the World Bank notes just alongside its interactive data portal, “the quality of global data depends on how well these national systems perform,” and performance is uneven at best.
Enter “big data,” and the potential … Read More »