How do we use our data?

  • eshaylor
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How do we use our data?

Hi everyone,

I have been attending a developer workshop with the team from Gather ( http://gatherhub.org/ )

For this we have been working with a team from IBM to look at how we can utlise data collected by those in the field to map sanitation and the related infrastructure. Its amazing what these software specialists can do, the question is what do we need in the sector to improve sanitation service delivery?

I would be interested to know if you are collecting data around water and sanitation infrastructure how you do this? Do you use an existing tool like mwater ( http://www.mwater.co/ )? Or do you use digital software to build your own surveys (for example Oxfam uses Mobenzi and SurveyCTO)?

Do you have any data management procedures that mean you cannot share data or restricting how you can share it? Should we be looking to build a data bank somewhere (maybe SuSanA) that stores relevant data sets generated by NGOs/government that can be accessed by others? Do we need some common fields/standards for data collection that would allow greater collaboration of data sets?

Most importunately how do we get governments to value data so that we can get better quality information from water/health/sanitation departments in the know?

My last question is more to SuSanA but I couldnt find an appropriate place to put this question, capacity development was the closest I could get, should we have a sanitation data section where we can discuss these kind of questions?

Many thanks
Esther

Esther Shaylor
WASH Communications and Knowledge Management Adviser
Oxfam GB
Working on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Phase 3 SuSanA project (see here: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: How do we use our data?

I usually use ODK opendatakit.org/ or Kobotoolbox www.kobotoolbox.org/ for mobile surveys. But they are more geared towards personalized confidentional surveys.

Recently I have been looking into Ushahidi www.ushahidi.com/ as a more open quick data collection/ crowdsourcing tool, as the entry barrier is lower and submission formats are much wider with it.

In the past I have also used WaterPointMapper Lite as a data aggregation and mapping tool www.waterpointmapper.org/
Which is easy to adapt to your needs, but lacks a good data submission tool.

For data submission I also used FrontlineSMS in the past www.frontlinesms.com/
But that does't come with a good data analysis option.

Regarding data submission standards there is this:
hxlstandard.org/
But I don't think it has really gotten much widespread use yet.

This website also has some good data for humanitarian aid: data.humdata.org/

Edit: This also looks like an interesting example from the water sector: www.waterpointdata.org/

About government valuing data more... probably the opposite of what you mean, but governments trying to sell data is not so uncommon. Personally I really think that's the wrong approach as tax funded data should be available in the open government sense... but yeah some government departments in many countries really do not have sufficient funds to update their databases otherwise.

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  • muench
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Re: How do we use our data?

Dear Esther,
(I have moved this thread to the sub-category on Knowledge Management where I think it fits fine - do you agree?)

Thanks for starting this interesting topic. Could you clarify for me what kind of data you have in mind? I think that would be important.

Before starting a new storage/sharing place for data (possibly on the SuSanA website), it's important to know whether we could rather piggy back on existing systems. Thanks, Kris, for pointing out what there is already. Those programs that you mentioned, are they mainly about collecting data (using surveys with mobile devices) rather than about storing or sharing the results afterwards?

I have no prior experience with making pure data accessible, so I am just thinking out loud here:
- Github is a web-based Git version control repository hosting service. It is mostly used for computer code. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GitHub )
-Wikidata is a document-oriented database, focused on items. It is a collaboratively edited knowledge base hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is intended to provide a common source of data which can be used by Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia,[2][3] and by anyone else, under a public domain license. This is similar to the way Wikimedia Commons provides storage for media files and access to those files for all Wikimedia projects, and which are also freely available for reuse. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikidata )

So probably neither of them would be suitable for what you are looking for, but there could be other databases.

Already the SuSanA project database is a place to store data on projects ( www.susana.org/en/knowledge-hub/projects/database ), but again this is probably not the kind of data or formatting that you have in mind?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: How do we use our data?

The point is really about having data in a usable format and reasonably accurate/up to date. At best with some sort of API to access it from external software. A bit like OpenStreetMap ( www.openstreetmap.org ) or OpenWeatherMap ( openweathermap.org/ ) does it.
Interesting is also this for satellite imagery: owm.io/

They have an interesting business model as well... for regular API queries the access is free and under an open access license (cc-by-sa), but if you are a heavy API user you can get faster and more comprehensive access for a monthly fee.

Somewhat related, I just learned about this webinar on data management in the water sector (Jan 25th 2018):
rwsn.blog/2018/01/12/wpdx-webinar-beyond...r-improved-services/

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Re: How do we use our data?

I still don't fully understand what kind of data you have in mind? Things related to locations, e.g. public toilet mapping? Or more complex data from e.g. household surveys or performance data of wastewater treatment plants or of water utilities? Financial data, e.g. tax revenue by city? I think it would help our conversation if we were more clear on the type of data, or would you say that's irrelevant?

And what do you mean with API?
(Is it this "application programming interface" see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface ?)

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: How do we use our data?

muench wrote: I still don't fully understand what kind of data you have in mind? Things related to locations, e.g. public toilet mapping? Or more complex data from e.g. household surveys or performance data of wastewater treatment plants or of water utilities? Financial data, e.g. tax revenue by city? I think it would help our conversation if we were more clear on the type of data, or would you say that's irrelevant?


Data can be anything ;)
But I think there are many kinds of data that are not feasible to be shared openly. Either because of privacy concerns, or because they are so specialized to their specific use case (like a program baseline survey) that hardly any good data can be extracted from them for others to use. Of course you could try to standardize a baseline to the level similar to a census, but then much of its value for the program implementation gets lost in my opinion.

But up to date census data would be a good example of data that has much use to be shared openly. Other good examples that are more sanitation specific would be flood maps, sewer pipelines (incl. man-hole cover locations), ground-water abstraction points... hmm, maybe solid-waste & vacuum-truck collection routes?

muench wrote: And what do you mean with API?
(Is it this "application programming interface" see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface ?)

Yes, that is something that allows standardized access to the data (or a service) by an external program. This it quite useful to have, especially with datasets that get updated frequently. Of course a more simple automatically created .csv file (=basically an excel file) can also work.

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