One of the most valuable resources for researchers, policymakers, and citizens concerned with public issues are high-quality information sources and various forms of data which enable creation of knowledge and understanding of policy options. In transitional and emerging democracies, access to and use of such resources is often scarce or underutilized.
Policy research requires collection and processing of varied information, which nonetheless often remains buried in the form of technical language of lengthy policy papers accessible to only a handful of experts. This information nonetheless has great potential for impacting evidence-based policy arguments and supporting advocacy and policy-making projects if available in the right form and used at the opportune time by wider audiences and coalitions of stakeholders.
While policy researchers collect and process vast amounts of data, their outputs often remain in the form of textual and static visual knowledge products (texts and charts). This not only limits the audience of their policy products to the experts and excludes wider lay population, but also does not readily allow for collaboration and reuse of the publicly available data, which was once already processed, for other policy goals. Additionally, information from various sources or various types of information remains pillarized with important context and connections being lost.
In order to tackle this issue head-on, in March 2011 we organized a capacity-building event, “Use of Information and Data for Enhanced Communication and Advocacy.”
The event was opened by Ellen Miller, founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, who focused on the theme “Turning Data into Action” in her keynote.