Three Examples of Data Empowerment

Blog by Michael Cañares: “It was a humid December afternoon in Banda Aceh, a bustling city in north Indonesia. Two women members of an education reform advocacy group were busy preparing infographics on how the city government was spending its education budget and its impact on service delivery quality in schools. The room was abuzz with questions and apprehension because the next day, the group would present its analysis on the data that they were able to access for the first time to education department officials. The analyses uncovered inefficiencies, poor school performance, ineffective allocation of resources, among others.

While worried about how the officials would react, almost everyone in the room was cheerful. One advocate told me she found the whole process liberating. She found it exhilarating to use government-published data to ask civil servants why the state of education in some schools was disappointing. “Armed with data, I am no longer afraid to speak my mind,” she said.

This was five years ago, but the memory has stuck with me. It was one of many experiences that inspired me to continue advocating for governments to publish data proactively, and searching for ways to use data to strengthen people’s voice on matters that are important to them.

Globally, there are many examples of how data has enabled people to advocate for their rights, demand better public services or hold governments to account. This blog post shares a few examples, focusing largely on how people are able to access and use data that shape their lives — the first dimension of how we characterize data empowerment….

Poverty Stoplight: People use their own data to improve their lives

Data Zetu: Giving borrowed data back to citizens

Check My School: Data-based community action to improve school performance…(More)”.