Make your data accessible by visualising it. It’s instantly more appealing when presented graphically. Outliers jump off the page at you (as do errors in the data). Trends can easily be spotted, and comparisons are far easier for the human brain to make. With user-friendly data visualisation products like Tableau or Qlik Sense, data can be quickly liberated from spreadsheets and presented in an interactive way so the end-user can answer questions.
Making data accessible is part of the job for ‘data translators‘, like myself, who can take the data and help policy makers understand it, and assist them in turning that understanding into changed practice.
Development projects are often big users and/or producers of data. Development Gateway estimates that governments, development partners, and implementers spend up to $2 billion every year collecting data on the results of development activities. See their Policy Brief on Increasing the Impact of Results Data.
The case for Evidence Based Policy Making is compelling. But too often this data is not used as much as it could. See Oxfam’s blog about embedding evidence based policy making: “An important factor was the extent to which applying evidence skills led to recognition from senior managers and career progression for trainees, or helped to mobilise donor resources for departments, which created incentives to further embed evidence use“.
One problem is that data that are collected at a central level are not made accessible to those who contributed it, so they can not use it to make policy decisions.
Another problem is that data are not presented in a user-friendly way. An Excel table with 200 columns and 10,000 rows will not easily yield it secrets to policy makers who are already busy with other things.
Want to promote evidence based decision making? Give the users the power to sift thorough the data themselves. Contact me if you would like to do this with your data.
Lao PDR Tourism Statistics
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