Experts Provide Guidance on Data Interoperability for SDGs
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The guide titled, ‘Data interoperability: A Practitioner's Guide to Joining up Data in the Development Sector,’ proposes a roadmap that can be used as an assessment framework by data managers to assess the degree to which systems are interoperable.

Data are interoperable when they can be easily re-used and processed in different applications, allowing different information systems to work together.

The guide was authored by Luis Gerardo González Morales, UN Statistics Division, and Tom Orrell, Founder, DataReady Limited, on behalf of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, and supported by an Advisory Group drawn from the Collaborative on SDG Data Interoperability.

22 October 2018: During the second UN World Data Forum, experts launched a guide on data interoperability for development to help improve the integration and reusability of data and data systems. The guide highlights that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires using the best data and information available from multiple sources to design, implement and monitor evidence-based policies, and interpreting and sharing data and information “in a way that is logical and makes sense.”

Authored by Luis Gerardo González Morales, UN Statistics Division (UNSD), and Tom Orrell, Founder, DataReady Limited, on behalf of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), the guide defines interoperability as the ability to join up data without losing meaning. It clarifies that data are interoperable when they can be easily re-used and processed in different applications, allowing different information systems to work together.

The guide titled, ‘Data Interoperability: A Practitioner’s Guide to Joining up Data in the Development Sector,’ proposes a roadmap that can be used as an assessment framework by data managers in development organizations and governments to assess the degree to which their systems are interoperable. It brings together examples of good practices from across the development sector, and notes that new sections, examples and guidance will be used to update the guide.

Chapter 1 on data management, governance and interoperability discusses institutional frameworks and interoperability, oversight and accountability models, as well as legal and regulatory frameworks. It stresses the importance of “effectively governed” data, as data need to be controlled with oversight and accountability as they move within and between organizations during its lifecycle. It also notes that data issues need to be considered cross-cutting, in the same way that gender, human rights and partnership issues are considered in the development field, and calls for more cogent management, funding, oversight and coordination.

Chapter 2 on data and metadata models makes specific recommendations to overcome structural obstacles to data interoperability. It also provides guidance and examples for modelling multi-dimensional data in the development sector.

Chapter 3 explores the role of standard classifications and vocabularies in data interoperability, and highlights examples of commonly used classifications and vocabularies in the development sector. It stresses the need to adopt standard vocabularies and classifications early in order to expose data without ambiguities.

Chapter 4 on open data formats and standard interfaces provides an overview of various approaches that exist to make data “discoverable,” and discusses data formats, application programming interfaces and user interfaces to support interoperability. Chapter 5 on linked open data outlines guidance on the dissemination of data and statistics on the web.

The production of the guide was supported by an Advisory Group drawn from the Collaborative on SDG Data Interoperability membership. The Collaborative is convened by UNSD and GPSDD, and comprises over 90 individuals, ranging from official statistics representatives to local civil society groups.

The UN World Data Forum 2018 convened from 22-24 October, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. [Publication: Data Interoperability: A Practitioner’s Guide to Joining up Data in the Development Sector] [Collaborative on SDG Data Interoperability webpage] [UN World Data Forum website]

 


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