How can the Global Data Barometer support action on Data Values?

Tim Davies

Tim Davies

This is the first post in a series produced as part of the analysis for the Measuring Data Values Around the World project.

The Data Values Project was set-up by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data in 2021 to explore the principles that should underpin the future of data for development. Through broad consultations around a white paper, the project has articulated a five-point manifesto that “calls on governments, companies, civil society organizations, donors, and others to make positive changes in how data is funded, designed, managed, and used.” Each point in the manifesto builds upon and brings together key threads from the Reimagining Data and Power roadmap whitepaper.

The first edition of the Global Data Barometer (GDB) was released in early 2022 (building on design in 2020, and data collection over 2021) providing a new country-level benchmark focussed on data for the public good. The GDB, developed through a consultative process, is based on a combination of secondary data, and a primary expert survey covering detailed indicators that ask about the data governance regulations and frameworks, capabilities to work with data, availability of key datasets, and the use and impact of data. Plans are underway for future editions of the Global Data Barometer.

In our current collaboration with the GDB and Data Values Project we are exploring how current and future editions of the Global Data Barometer might be used to support assessment of whether and how data values messages are being implemented. At the same time, we are interested in how the Global Data Barometer might generate actionable insights on the current state of, and opportunities to improve, participatory data governance practices around the world.

This post documents the first stages of this work.

Mapping the GDB against the Data Values Project framework

Our starting point is to look for a mapping between current Global Data Barometer indicators and evidence, and the framework provided by the Data Values Project. Building on our inception workshop, we understand the Data Values Project framework as:

  • The five points of the Data Values Manifesto
  • Supporting context and detail on how to assess these provided by the final Reimagining Data and Power whitepaper, and its focus on agency, accountability and action.

Additionally, we recognise that while the Global Data Barometer provides an assessment of countries and is designed to primarily measure things that are within the control of governments to influence or change, the Data Values Manifesto is targeted at a broader constellation of actors. Therefore, as we consider the Data Values Project framework, we need to pay particular attention to the detailed messages to government, as well as to consider how far the current (or future) editions of the GDB provide insight into the actions of other stakeholders.

In the table in this document we have:

  • Identified key themes in the prose of the white paper that relate to each of the five manifesto topics;
  • Identified specific recommendations for governments;
  • Extracted recommendations for other stakeholders;
  • Identified potential GDB primary survey indicators and elements that may relate to the themes and recommendations extracted.

We have colour-coded this with an initial assessment of how strongly or weakly aligned GDB data points may be.

Preliminary findings

  • There is the greatest alignment for the manifesto statements 4 (Create cultures of transparency, data sharing, and use) and 3 (Democratise data skills for greater equality), although coverage of non-governmental data literacy / capability and data use practice is limited.
  • There are data points in the GDB that can be used to look for evidence of intersectional and needs-based disaggregation, but these do not fully capture the extent to which countries are actively supporting people to shape how they are represented in data, providing relatively limited coverage of manifesto statement 1.
  • There is limited data in the GDB to assess how far countries Invest in public participation for accountability (Manifesto statement 2), although the GDB does capture some information about formal mechanisms for accountability around data, and practices around public consultation.
  • There is very limited data in the GDB about the funding of responsive data systems (Manifesto statement 5)

Next steps

The next steps of this work will be to look at whether there is additional secondary data that might be used to expand this mapping, and to prototype a tool that draws on the Global Data Barometer to support advocacy on data values.

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