Helping Markets and States Work for Development
Creating, harmonizing and disseminating user-friendly data

Program area:
Development Metrics

Owner: Akshai Abraham

Initiative researchers: 14

Information for Development

Creating, harmonizing and disseminating user-friendly data

The importance of information for development is well-recognized.  Information allows people to understand their options and rights: the candidates they can choose to represent them, the places they can sell their produce, the choices they have of schools, or the health care services they are entitled to, for example. It enables transactions, both political and economic: buying, selling, lending, and grouping of likeminded people. It supports informed decision making by consumers, voters, and policymakers. Most of the barriers to inclusive markets and the stumbling blocks for good governance can be traced back to some kind of information gap.

Simply producing the relevant information to enable these political and economic connections is not enough, the information must actually reach and resonate with users to be relevant.  Dissemination requires bridging digital divides to reach a wide and diverse audience and crossing analytical divides by presenting information in meaningful, simple ways that can be readily absorbed. It requires lowering the transactions costs of finding and combining datasets. Provoking action requires overcoming listeners’ unwillingness, inability, or just indifference.

We are focusing on extraction as well as user-friendly and sometimes provocative dissemination of data in order to leverage and build on others’ investment in data production. The majority of the resources currently invested in development data focus on production; but these do not achieve full development returns unless the data reach citizens, policymakers, researchers, and other users.

Along with other researchers at CDF and external partners, members of our Development Metrics are aggregating, digitizing, and harmonizing data already in the public domain as well as bringing more data into the public domain by exercising rights as citizens through informal queries and Right to Information requests. We are addressing the last mile of dissemination with the India Development Indicators, Development Data Library, and a series of Thematic Maps designed to visualize and draw attention to spatial disparities in development in India.

We also aim to disseminate development data in a way that encourages citizens to contribute to the data directly by sharing their own experience, indirectly through allowing their interactions with the data to be tracked, and most importantly by becoming constructive critics of development data.

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Website: http://ifmr-cdf.in/pg/expages/read/Visualizing%20Development/

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