Digital growth is leading to an exponential increase in the volume and types of data available globally. For the UN, relevant, reliable and up-to-date data are critical to assess the effectiveness of our programmes and to better understand the challenges facing the communities in which we work.
“New forms of data present both challenges and valuable opportunities for the work of UN agencies. Access to more detailed data can enable us to strengthen our programme work, better inform policy decisions and remain institutionally agile to keep up with technological advances,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Omar Abdi.
In response to these new data challenges the Chief Executive Board of the UN, identified that the UN community must develop the skills and understanding of how to utilise new sources of data as an essential tool for measuring progress towards achieving the SDGs. In response to this WFP and UNICEF were tasked to jointly lead the establishment of a Data Innovation Lab. As a first step towards the creation of the Lab the team have launched the Data Innovation Lab workshop series.
The first Data Innovation Lab workshop was held last week at tech think tank, Singularity University. This inaugural session successfully brought together partners from the UN family with involvement and guidance from private sector tech leaders and entrepreneurs. There was a strong focus on collaboration and a shared strategic approach to using these new forms of data.
In his welcome speech, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Omar Abdi, reminded the group that “data and information collected and analyzed alone is almost worthless compared to the same information when shared and analyzed in open environments. The power of collaboration in the area of information — from joint research to open-data standards — is the most valuable tool we have against the expanding set of problems that face children today and tomorrow.”
WFP and UNICEF are leading an essential movement within the UN to ensure that new technologies and ways of using data are rapidly integrated into programme work. Building the UN community’s capacity to utilise and understand existing and emerging forms of data in new ways will ensure that we can continue to strengthen how we serve marginalised communities around the world and address their changing needs.
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