Overcoming Data Graveyards in Official Statistics: Catalyzing Uptake and Use

Report by Trends and Open Data Watch: “The world is awash in information. Every day, an estimated 1.1 billion gigabytes of data are produced, and this number will increase as mobile connections continue to expand and new ways of gathering data are incorporated by the private and public sectors to improve their products and services. The volume of statistics published by government agencies such as National Statistics Offices (NSOs) has also grown. New technologies offer new ways of gathering, storing, and disseminating data and producers of official statistics are releasing more information in more detailed ways through data portals and other mechanisms than ever before.

Once produced, data may live forever, but far too often, the data produced are not what data users are looking for or users lack the awareness or technical skill to use the data. As a result, data fall into data graveyards (Custer, 2017) where they go unutilized and prevent evidence-informed policies from being made. This is dangerous particularly at a time when intersecting crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and energy and food insecurity put a premium on decision-making that incorporates the best data. In addition, public sector producers of data, who do so using public funds, need evidence of the use of their data to justify investments in data.

Data use remains a complex topic, with many policymakers and managers in national statistical system agencies unclear about this issue and how to improve their practices to ensure uptake and use. With conceptual clarity and best practices in hand, these actors can improve their practices and better address the needs of data users, while recognizing that a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not be suitable for countries at various stages of statistical capacity….(More)”