Making science work for development

The data revolution's implications for international development

16 April 2014

The UKCDS Secretariat has been exploring what the data revolution will mean for development and how the uses of data, including the growing demand for public accountability, can enrich UK science's relationship with international development.

On 24 February 2014, UKCDS jointly organised an event with SciDev.Net to discuss the challenges of tying the data revolution into development. The event "Making it Count" convened journalists, policy-makers, researchers and NGOs to talk about a data revolution to underpin the next generation of development goals and the issues of public engagement on the use of data. The day featured talks from experts on the use of data for international development, as well as interactive break-out sessions for participants to engage in the lively discussion.  

The event was live streamed online and you can watch recordings of some of the presentations on the SciDev.Net website. Following the main public event there was a closed meeting for some of the main speakers and event organisers to debate potential further activities in this area. 

Following on from the Making it Count event, the UKCDS Director, Andrée Carter, was asked to speak at a round-table meeting hosted by the Planet Earth Institute entitled The data revolution: what it means for scientific development in Africa. The event was held in the House of Lords on 10 April and was an interactive and discussion-based roundtable to bring together leading experts and help influence future projects on the continent. 

The day covered a great range of ideas and thoughts, including useful international examples of data management, the role of ethics and privacy and the relationship between the debate and the broader global development agenda.The main conclusions from the day were:

  • It was a 50/50 split in the room between those who thought the data revolution was clearly defined and those who didn't;
  • The top three challenges for the data revolution in Africa were voted:
  1. Collection, access and use of primary/secondary data
  2. Weak sharing networks/partnerships
  3. High cost of research
  • In terms of organisations best placed to lead Africa's data revolution, the top choice was 'regional governmental institutions', although over a third of participants thought that no single body was currently fit for purpose. Most of the discussion then called for more collaboration between all of those involved regarding the use of data on the continent.

For more details of the event visit the Planet Earth Institute website.

  • Post 2015