The United Nations General Assembly met in New York last week to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals and to set a framework for establishing the post-2015 goals. After a week of strategy meetings, the General Assembly called for a summit in 2015 to set the new goals and measured progress up to this point.
In a press release, the General Assembly stated, “the MDGs have been the most effective anti-poverty push in history. The lives of millions have been improved and targets have already been met.” In setting new goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that the post-2015 framework “must be bold in ambition yet simple in design, supported by a new partnership for development.”
Open data should be the cornerstone of such a partnership, providing the information necessary for leaders worldwide to make the most effective and efficient decisions. Writing about Global Development week, Pete Trollo of DevEx argued, “eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 will require the international community to focus on inclusive, sustainable growth. On peace and partnership. On governance and getting the job done on the MDGs.” If all parties have the same accessible information, they can work together to provide lasting solutions to these challenges.
The Liberian government released an example of this kind of open data technology on Friday. The Ministry of Finance Aid Management Unit and the United Nations Development Program launched a New Deal Dashboard tracking donor-funded peace building activities across the country. The dashboard will provide the government with information needed to make decisions for future peace building initiatives by displaying where projects are and what types of projects are already being implemented. If this kind of project-level information were available in all areas where the MDGs are trying to target development challenges, donors, host governments and civil society could more easily target, coordinate and evaluate development assistance.
More data will better inform a challenge, but when dealing with large datasets, information must be presented in a manageable form. Dashboards like the NDD provide accurate information in an easy-to-use format. At the Social Good Summit last week, leaders met to discuss how innovative thinking and technology can address development challenges. In “The Delicate Balance Between Internet Freedom and Big Data” Lorenzo Francheschi-Bicchierai of Mashable addresses the problem with big datasets. He explained, “these datasets are so large that they create significant challenges for the organizations and governments handling them.”
At the end of October, AidData will be releasing an updated and revamped version of our comprehensive data portal, aiddata.org. The new interactive platform moves beyond tracking aid to capturing the total resource envelope available to developing countries. Policymakers and practitioners will be able to compare data on $5.5 trillion in development finance from 90 donor agencies with information on private foundation flows, remittances, foreign direct investment and national budgets. Stay tuned for updates on our new features and launch events in the coming weeks. Beyond data, the new interface will enable any user to more easily search, visualize and share data on financial flows, development conditions and project activities. Stay tuned for updates on our new features and launch events in the coming weeks.
Ellie Kaufman is a Communications Associate with AidData filling in for Taryn Davis' weekly column, "This Week".