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Open Data at the UN - Help #VisualizeChange!
September 10, 2015

Post by Becky Band Jain, United Nations

The United Nations has been gathering data long before computers, but technology is continuously transforming the ways in which we work. The UN produces a vast amount of information, covering a wide range of subjects, formats and six official languages. The archives alone contain decades worth of the world’s socio-economic and political history. The Official Document System archives and hosts more than 1.3 million documents reporting the UN’s work on a daily basis.

From humanitarian aid and human rights to economic development, the UN is opening its data, making more information available to the public. This increased transparency is partly in hopes that academics and civil society will use the data creatively and help us make better decisions in our core work. Some open data portals include: data.undp.org,data.unops.org, and data.un.org.

The data revolution promotes the availability of data for different countries and different measures, and has been championed by the Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group. The suggestions in their report, published last year, are still yet to be fully realized. Chief among them: Fostering and promoting innovation to fill data gaps.

Some UN offices are showcasing their open datasets through the new Unite Ideasdataviz crowdsourcing platform. Unite Ideas promotes data literacy by encouraging participants to explore and get hands on experience with official and open UN data. We’re hoping this will turn out to be a successful method of engaging with the global data for good community, despite more commercial competitions that offer thousands of dollars to the winners. We’re also looking at the Datakind model as an example for how to collaborate with this community.
 

Get Involved 

Currently we’re working with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on a challenge to help visualize ideas shared in consultations leading up to the first-everWorld Humanitarian Summit. Thousands of people worldwide have discussed how to reduce human loss and suffering from crisis, and we’re looking for creative representations of the information collected. The winner will get to present their work at the Global Consultation in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2015. The best visualizations will be showcased at related events worldwide. Participate in the WHS challenge and submit your work by September 13th!

 

Becky is a Business Analyst in the United Nations Office of ICT Analytics, Partnerships and Innovation Section, working on launching a new innovation initiative. The views here are her own and do not represent the Organization.

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