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
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UNICEF Supply Division
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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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  • muench
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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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Re: How do we use our data?

Some interesting links on responsible / ethical data use:

www.datakind.org/mezzanine/blog/doing-data-for-good-right/

responsibledata.io/

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Re: Urban sanitation data dive: join us!

The Dive

Gather is hosting a data dive for urban sanitation and we are looking for data scientists to join us on 23rd and 24th March!

We want to use urban sanitation data to better understand how we can get toilets to people who need them in emerging cities across the world.

The event will kick-off with a keynote presentation from Lars Schoebitz and Q&A with Gather. Participants will break into small groups and spend the two days answering seven key questions and then discussing progress with the entire group.

The dive will be held in central London. Gather will reimburse all participants with the costs of travel, accommodation and lunch.

Join Us!

Gather are inviting individuals to join us who meet the following description:

- Passionate about using data for good

- Competency in programming languages such as R or Python

- Skilled at creating algorithms and exploratory models to gain actionable insight from large data sets

- Familiar with performing geospatial analysis

- Comfortable communicating solutions and findings, and how they relate to a particular problem

- Domain expertise in urban sanitation is not required, but is always welcome!

If you meet the description above, register your interest here

Co-Founder of Gather: we want to make it possible for the sanitation sector to share data to locate the gaps in service provision.
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  • johnpeterarcher
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Re: How do we use our data?

Hi all,

Really interesting to read everyone's comments and questions - especially on data management and standardisation. We have shared some thoughts below and would love to hear people's thoughts!

KEY DATA CHALLENGE:
We would agree that there are great data collection tools already available. The key challenge is a joined-up, sector-wide data strategy. Without it, too much of the burden for design and implementation of data collection, management and analysis will continue to rest on the shoulders of organisations who should be focused on service delivery.

DATA STANDARDS
Data standards are not impossible to achieve but will take sector-wide collaboration to implement. A key question for the sector to answer is "What are the minimum indicators needed to inform the most important decisions?" This data - from survey design, to collection, to management - can then be standardised for sharing and analysis. Starting with 5-10 indicators will be key to make adoption easy. From there, like-minded organisations operating similar models of service delivery can further standardise additional indicators they are interested in for additional key decisions. The standardisation of urban sanitation data would also make it easier to analyse data alongside reliable, complementary data sets. This reduce reliance - and time - on repeated household surveys.

DATA DIVE
We recently held a data dive in London, UK using an extensive data set from Lusaka, Zambia as our starting point. We have posted the initial findings on our website and will share a fuller report in the coming weeks. There is great potential in the use of data to improve decision making. Data is by no means the silver bullet but it can be much better utilised. We would love to hear from anyone else interested in working together to create a data standard for urban sanitation!

Co-Founder of Gather: we want to make it possible for the sanitation sector to share data to locate the gaps in service provision.
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  • eshaylor
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Re: How do we use our data?

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the inputs. I think Kris' point about data being anything is important, we forget how much we record and then dont always think responsibly about how we use this information.

Its great to see that Gather are looking at this idea of standardisation and how we can use data as a sector not just within our own organisation. I know with emergency situations it can be tricky ensuring we keep information responsibly and those at risk protected. I personally think we should be looking ahead about this a be prepared for the next few years where we collect even more information/data and then realise we need systems to ensure it is used responsibly.

Maybe SuSanA with support from someone like Gather could lead with some guidance fro sanitation? Is there a webinar/guidance note we could do as a collaboration?

Regards
Esther

Esther Shaylor
Innovation specialist - WASH and Education
UNICEF Supply Division
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: How do we use our data?

Very relevant comment from the RWSN blog:

You cannot manage what you do not measure; but should you measure what you cannot manage?

rwsn.blog/2018/04/19/you-cannot-manage-w...t-you-cannot-manage/

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  • muench
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Re: How do we use our data?

Hi John,

Thanks for the link to your report about the "data dive" event: gatherhub.org/datadive

Always great to learn new things - the terms "data dive" and "data scientists" were new to me.
So I looked for more into on Wikipedia and found this page about data science:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_science

It says:

Data science is an interdisciplinary field of scientific methods, processes, algorithms and systems to extract knowledge or insights from data in various forms, either structured or unstructured,[1][2] similar to data mining.


It also says:

When Harvard Business Review called it "The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century"[6] the term became a buzzword, and is now often applied to business analytics,[7] or even arbitrary use of data, or used as a sexed-up term for statistics.[8] While many university programs now offer a data science degree, there exists no consensus on a definition or curriculum contents.[7] Because of the current popularity of this term, there are many "advocacy efforts" surrounding it.[9]


Interesting! Please keep us posted how things progress and also how SuSanA as a network/platform can possibly help.

Esther suggested a webinar or guidance note. Would this be useful at this stage? Who would be the target audience?

Regards,
Elisabeth

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