Discussion Papers

As our work progresses we will be developing a series of discussion papers to highlight how particular data standards overlap, differ and contradict each another. These discussion papers will be based on research undertaken in collaboration with data standard setters, data producers and users and will feed into a consultation paper that will set out recommendations on the joining up of data standards.

What research are the discussion papers based on?

Our research is founded on ‘semantic mapping’ – the process of linking exact and close matches of concepts across different data standards. For instance, we look at how sectors such as ‘public health’, ‘education’, ‘heavy industry’ and sub-sectors within these are defined by major international organisations including the UN, OECD, the World Bank, IMF, amongst others. More detail about this process can be found here.

What themes will the discussion papers explore?

Our discussion papers explore themes that are of particular relevance to the international development community. Our aim is to highlight challenges and potential solutions that will contribute to easier use of data across standards in decision-making and accountability efforts. Given the recent adoption by the international community of the post-2015 development agenda in the form of the Global Goals, much of our early research is focused on how the potential of data can be harnessed to help meet and monitor these ambitious goals. Our first discussion paper therefore examines how Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and targets have been incorporated into the new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework. It also looks at how some of the major standards relating to indicator data and financial resources can be linked to the new SDG framework. In the coming months, we aim to build on this work by examining the relationships between standards used to meet and monitor SDGs relating to areas such as health, agriculture and climate change.

How can we contribute to your research? 

We welcome all feedback and comments on our research and are keen to collaborate with standard setters and users in the process of producing our discussion papers. To find out how best you can contribute to our work, please contact us directly. To receive the latest updates on our work, please subscribe to our updates.

We welcome all feedback and comments on our research and are keen to collaborate with standard setters and users in the process of producing our discussion papers. You can feedback on our discussion papers via this form or via email on info@joinedupdata.org.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Identifying government entities

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Identifying government entities

This paper was written by Tim Davies of Open Data Services Co-operative with financial support from the Joined-up Data Standards (JUDS) project. JUDS is a joint effort of Developme ...

This paper was written by Tim Davies of Open Data Services Co-operative with financial support from the Joined-up Data Standards (JUDS) project. JUDS is a joint effort of Development Initiatives (DI) and Publish What You Fund, with funding support from Omidyar Network. The JUDS team is grateful to Tim Davies for his work on this paper.

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Many of the datasets and standards created to further transparency created over recent years include information about transactions involving government entities. Persistent, non-overlapping and widely used identifiers are important to enable machines to combine data from multiple sources, and then to answer questions such as the following.

  • How much money has been spent by the UK Department for Health with small or medium enterprises?
  • How much money has the official Ugandan education system received from government donors in the last five years?

In these cases, the use of an identifier would allow human or machine data users to clearly identify: (a) the companies or charities in receipt of money; and (b) the government entities providing and receiving money. It is increasingly straightforward (though not entirely without challenge) to identify commercial organisations or charities unambiguously through the use of official identification and registration numbers. However, government entities often lack such stable public identifiers. As a result, there can be many missed connections in current datasets.
Previous efforts to identify a ‘Government Entity Identifier’ (GEI) for use in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) were not able to suggest a clear approach. This paper revisits the problem. Following a detailed exploration of the different requirements that any solution must address, we provide an updated assessment of potential methods to be adopted to better join up data about government agencies.

This paper explores options for a universal method of identifying government entities in datasets describing transactions from or to government agencies. It was developed based on dialogue with the org-id.guide partners and the IATI community between September 2016 and June 2017.

Making the case for joined-up data: a data story from Kenya

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Making the case for joined-up data: a data story from Kenya

What are the benefits of joining up data? How could joined-up data help government departments and others monitor progress and direct future spending effectively? In this video ...

What are the benefits of joining up data? How could joined-up data help government departments and others monitor progress and direct future spending effectively?

In this video – the second in our series on joined-up data – we use a data story from within the Kenyan Ministry of Education to make the case for joining up data, showing how much simpler planning and analysis would be if only the data on domestic and international resources were joined-up and connected to national and international indicators.

Household surveys: do competing standards serve country needs?

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Household surveys: do competing standards serve country needs?

     Household surveys are currently the most important data source for a range of key demographic and socioeconomic statistics in developing countries. They are the most effecti ...

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Household surveys are currently the most important data source for a range of key demographic and socioeconomic statistics in developing countries. They are the most effective method of filling the vacuums that exist because of a lack of credible data from more sustainable registry and administrative sources. Even as better systems are rolled out, surveys will continue to play an important quality-control role.

Small island developing states: a case study of standards in defining supranational regions and groupings

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Small island developing states: a case study of standards in defining supranational regions and groupings

     The original definition of SIDS from the United Nations conference in Rio de Janerio in 1992 described them as “low-lying coastal countries that share similar sustainable ...

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The original definition of SIDS from the United Nations conference in Rio de Janerio in 1992 described them as “low-lying coastal countries that share similar sustainable development challenges, including population, limited resources, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, and extensive dependence on international trade.” However, United Nations (UN) agencies have never agreed a common definition of SIDS. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) states “The UN never established criteria to determine an official list of SIDS. This unofficial list is used by the UNCTAD for analytical purposes only”. This lack of common definition results in a varying number of states that are classified as SIDS (Tables 1 and 2).

Sustainable Development Goal 2: joining-up standards for ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture

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Sustainable Development Goal 2: joining-up standards for ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture

     SDG2 is an ambitious goal that combines the problems of hunger, food security and sustainable agriculture. It is perhaps not surprising that consultations on its content, ...

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SDG2 is an ambitious goal that combines the problems of hunger, food security and sustainable agriculture. It is perhaps not surprising that consultations on its content, led by the FAO, are ongoing and in February 2016 major changes are still being introduced. Ten of the fourteen indicators still lack either a clear methodology or easily available data to support them.