Cepei, PARIS21 and Open Data Watch launched their third webinar to discuss different approaches and perspectives on the use of non-traditional data sources for the measurement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The analysis and use of data from non traditional sources allows to get timely information about trends and predictions, as well as behavioral patterns that contribute to a better decision making in critical areas and the identification of new opportunities that enable to enhance sustainable development in the countries. However, credibility on data and partnerships must be generated between the actors involved, in order to use data for the SDGs.
Seeking to promote commitments and measures so that the responsibility of the SDGs is based on evidence, this webinar discussed some of the key issues related to citizen generated big data, and the National Statistics Offices (NSOs) perspective on the use of non-traditional data sources, focusing on the real benefits of using these type of data sources.
Key questions of the session
- How can the use of big data or citizen generated data contribute to measure the SDGs?
- What are the benefits and the utility for the companies when contributing with their large volumes of data to the sustainable development of a country?
- What are the limitations of using non traditional data sources for official statistics?
- How important is the security and confidentiality of the information so that companies and citizens are willing to deliver their data?
We have put together the answers to the questions the participants asked to the panelist during the session. Check them out!
Q – As a follow-up, would this be completely citizen generated? or will it rely on a survey? If the former, then how do we know if this is comprehensive?
A – Rebecca Firth: Citizen generated data comes in many forms. A lot of citizen generated data works through surveys, especially with open source surveying tools (e.g. OpenDataKit, OpenMapKit, Kobo). These resources will help to explain how CGD projects can collect comprehensive data:
Q – How do you deal with the biases that could be a part of citizen generated data? For example, tracking phones will mostly track the people who have a phone, the power to use it, and talk time or you can only get people to map data that have some technical expertise to do the mapping.
A- Rebecca Firth: CGD can be collectd in multiple forms and data is collected by and from different users depending on the need of that data. As a non-profit, HOT engages with many communities without technology access to provide access and training to map. In many areas, people do have access to smartphones but not to airtime, this is also something we can provide. These resources will help to explain more CGD projects methodologies:
Q – If I understood well, population is estimated using street map. Could you give us more details about this is done or any resource to read about the methodology of the estimation, please?
A – Rebecca Firth: There are a number of ways to do this dependent on resource availablility. High resource approach involves household surveys, a low resource approach involves comparing building counts with WorldPop (and other) population estimates. These resources will help to explain more CGD methodology:
Q – An important aspect of measuring the SDGs is to assess differences between sub-groups and over time. A proper assessment of these issues requires the traditional tools of statistical inference to assess uncertainty. To what extent can these new sources of data (CDG etc.) be combined with what we might call “eternal statistical verities”; (sampling, non-response etc.) in the construction of measures of the SDGs?
A – Rebecca Firth: Thanks for the question. CGD is a broad field and approach and ideas vary across different implementors, however these resources will help to explain more CGD methodology by GPSDD partners:
Q – What do you see as the role of politicians in the non-traditional data conversation. Politicians make the decisions; on laws, on how to allocate resources and how much etc. They are the main data consumers, and I have a feeling politicians value CGD- their most valued clients are the citizens, right? Are we doing enough to bring politicians into the data conversation?
A – Rebecca Firth: Thanks for this question, we are very much in agreement with this. Politicians have an important role in increasing the appetite for non-traditional data production and use. I think specific targeted events (workshops, side events at conferences) would be a good idea to increase connections between non-traditional data users & political advocates.
Q – Could you give us an example of the application of any SDG indicator?
A – Rebecca Firth: Thanks for the question, many examples are documented here: 1) Advancing sustainability together? Citizen-generated data and the Sustainable Development Goals
Q – The alternative sources mentioned could be highly useful to fill the data gap at aggregate level and improve timeliness but there is a risk that data is not granular enough gender, disability, other dimensions of leave no one behind. How do we manage this risk?
A – Rebecca Firth: Thanks for the question. CGD is often a great option to gather granular data, however this needs to be included in project purpose from the beginning. Often very limited guidance is given on what factors data users want to be able to disaggregate data by, making it difficult for CGD practitioners to build into their programs (as it can, for example, more than double the data points they need to gather). I think some standard guidance on what data points are most critical to gather to effectively disaggregate needs to be agreed cross-sector to make data more usable across different actors. A lot of CGD data is also open data, so this guidance would make that data even more relevant into the future.