Work it, data!

Kyrgyzstan spatial
Evidence-based decision-making seems to be the only logical option. However, I was surprised to learn that this is apparently quite a new trend.

What Works Network was organized by the UK Government in June 2013 and “is a world first: it’s the first time any government has taken a national approach to prioritizing the use of evidence in decision-making.” claims the UK Cabinet Office.

So what are our decision makers basing their decisions on? – you may ask, cold with foreboding.

Apparently, on hypothesis, on ideas which never get a reality check.

This is clearly wrong. So what do we need to empower our decision-making policy process?

We need the data to work.

Data needs to be collected, it needs to be reported and made open to the public, it needs to be analyzed, and last, but not least, it must be well presented. Moreover, collected datasets have to be standardized to a large degree so as to compare policy needs and results across countries.

Doing my research in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency, I frequently come across the need to collect and analyze national data for Central Asian countries, and I have to tell you that it is not an easy task.

First of all, collected data sets differ from country to country. Open data sets vary dramatically.

Secondly, in some places, such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, statistical data beyond the basic level is only available within the country in hard copy. So I have to ask local partners to post the data. Now, imagine the fun and efficiency of manually inputting large amounts of data from printed sources into endless Excel sheets!

Thirdly, a lot of research, implemented by academic institutions, NGOs and practitioners simply does not reach the Government officials responsible for decision-making.

And even if the results of your hard work do get to the responsible officials, they will most probably look only at 1 to 2 summary pages.

While that may seem like a daunting task, the way to truly improve policy planning may well begin with simple data visualization.

I realized that looking at the visual comparison of child stunting per Kyrgyzstan province over the years presented as an example of the Kyrgyzstan Spatial visual representation system at the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Central Asia and the Caucasus.

So let’s start small. Let’s take the data we have, and put it to work through using already developed tools for visual representation. Let’s provide open access to the results and invite our information-overloaded policy makers to look at 1 or 2 pages of simple and intuitively-clear research results.

And then, let’s see what happens.

 

Blogpost by Tatiana Vedeneva, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – talve(at)yandex.com

Map courtesy of Tatiana Vedeneva (CREEED)

This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Central Asia and the Caucasus. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.


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