Bogota, February 25-28. The partnership between Cepei and Tableau Foundation made the workshop “Visualizing sustainable development” possible. This space looked forward to training a group of 30 people in the use of the Tableau software for the visualization, management and communication of data. The workshop gave tools and capacities to those who attended, so they can replicate those abilities and knowledge within their organizations and communities. The added value in this training was that its focus is set on helping the creation of content that contributes to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals on which the 2030 Agenda for the United Nations is build upon. Its purpose is to contribute in the making of efficient public policy, and to oversee and monitor them as well.
This partnership between Tableau and Cepei promotes capacity building among partners of the initiatives DataRepública and Big Data for Sustainable Network, and can provide more and better skills in regards to visualizations and alternatives to communicate data for the achievement of the SDGs. The workshop offered fellowships that trained 30 members of civil society, academy, government, the private sector and the media, from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, to create a community of experts in this software and achieve a cross-regional south-south cooperation for the visualization of data that helps accomplish the 2030 Agenda.
One of the assignments the participants had to complete during their training was to tell a story about sustainable development through data. Those stories will be published at Cepeís data platform: www.datarepublica.org.
The importance of visualizing data in the era of Big Data
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Learning how to visualize, manage and communicate data is a necessary tool for today’s technological demands. Big Data is all the structured, semi structured and unstructured data that forms through the use of digital technologies based on social dynamics. These data reveal patterns and trends that offer valuable information, which would be difficult and expensive to obtain through traditional analogue procedures like census, inquiries and surveys. Big Data supplies tools that allow the viewing of correlations between key variables that are able to explain the causes behind an event, anticipate trends and results, and offer solutions at a local, national, and global level.
Migration patterns, critical points for criminality, inclusion of women in different fields, citizenship behaviors and trends, are just some of the data that may be established through Big Data. The data contributed by Big Data can help measure relevant issues that contribute to the process of monitoring the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The contribution of Big Data to the SDGs is that key information may help structure public policy tailored according to real necessities, because it would be based on historic and real-time data.
Data and journalism
As the core of journalism is research and reporting, it needs to make a good use of data. Therefore, to have more tools to do their jobs responsibly, journalists and editors need to learn how to visualize evidence. Data tell stories. It’s a responsibility for journalists to be able to translate information in media.
Achieving the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs requires the commitment of civil society, government, citizenship and the private sector. Journalism is a bridge to inform all and generate opinion towards this goal. In the era of Fake News and loose opinion, journalists are called to double up their efforts to inform ethically and narrate global, national and local realities. The good use of data is a key tool for achieving that. Journalism based on data offers independence, because it allows journalists the freedom of not having to depend solely on government sources or specialized studies that may reflect powerful interests. It also allows a wider spectrum of glances on various issues, which offers more support for in depth analysis when telling stories. The stories born out of the visualization of data involve people, communities, the environment, progress and development issues.
Research and Data
The amount of data grows on a daily basis. There are also more tools to analyze, visualize, read and use them. These also help with cross-referencing on a larger scale. This means that what used to take monumental effort and time, and were considered in many cases utopian researches, can be achieved in an easier way, allowing an interdisciplinary approach that would have been impossible before.
Data on climate, geography, influence over human health, deforestation, and so on, can be analyzed simultaneously through cross-referencing, by comparing variables, even in real time. Science had never had those possibilities before. Money and time can be saved. Data and massive surveys can be analyzed for specific research purposes. That helps avoid anomalous results more effectively than when the sample sizes of the survey are smaller.
Millions of people share data simultaneously. This democratizes not just the access but also the production of data. More non-researchers are reporting on different phenomenon, on every level, that is useful for establishing patterns. Data offers evidence on diverse and important issues, that go beyond particular interests. Evidence and proof help generate conscience on global issues of all kind. It generates interest and impact, avoiding indifference.