Natália Mazotte leads the School of Data in Brazil and is co-director of Genero e Número, a data-driven magazine focused on gender issues.
At IODC in 2015, capacity building was already taken as a key aspect to move forward the open data agenda. We became better at understanding that to be useful, data doesn’t need only to be available, but also accessible and comprehensive for all. In the capacity building Action session this year, we identified some points in which we have advanced, but we also raised some questions to help to guide the proposals to the next edition of the conference.
There is a need to create learning opportunities with a community-centred approach, which goes beyond creating capacity in specific spaces at governments, private sector, and the organized civil society. How can we address open data literacy as a means to engaging citizens more autonomously in tackling communities’ challenges? How can organizations move beyond building capacity for general data literacy skills, and start using problem-specific approaches to come up with solutions that tackle real issues?
The work needed to be done includes capacity building for data collection, which is relevant for solving both hyper-local problems and working in resource-constrained environments. Communities need to take ownership of their own data to better understand – and advocate for – the solutions to their problems. What are the resources/examples available in this field? How do we get greater representation and reach people difficult to reach such as from low-tech communities?
There is increasing collaboration across different regions and organizations, such as School of Data, ODI, Open Data Alliance, and more, who have started formalizing methodologies and mapping best practices. But more partnerships and learning exchanges must be encouraged, not only in the IODC context. Why not to create a coalition to map collaboratively the technical capabilities and relevant skills among these actors, as well as the available methodologies to work with open data initiatives? The findings could be shared in an online platform where each organization also update the rest of the network about its last achievements in the field of data literacy.
IODC is an event where some of the most active and inspiring people from the open data movement get together to build collective action, so it is an extremely opportune moment for mapping their open data-related problems and their data skills gap.
Why not to prepare a survey to be answered early across key open data conferences in order to subsidize capacity building discussions? This year, in the closing session of the IODC, the Data Literacy anchors released a survey to understand the challenges and data skills gap among the open data community. Unfortunately we haven’t received enough responses to arrive at solid conclusions yet, but a permanent working group could take advantage of existing regional conferences to apply some surveys directly in contact with the participants, resulting in a more robust data source to understand the open data movement skills gaps and needs.
For the next edition of IODC in Argentina in 2018, we have to revisit these takeaways beforehand and plan the actions to pursue effective answers for all the current challenges we have recognized in the capacity building area.
Featured cover photo by James Pond.