Investing in the Innovative Use of Data to Drive Large-scale Positive Change — A Renewed Focus for OD4D III

Open Data for Development (OD4D)
3 min readFeb 17, 2021
Image by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

The year 2021 looks promising for the OD4D initiative as the network continues to strengthen regional and global open data ecosystems across the world in order to spur social change, increase government transparency, and support the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The issue of gender comes into even sharper focus of the third phase of OD4D. The initiative expects to make a lasting contribution to inclusive governance, gender equality, and the empowerment of women and girls, all the while supporting cross-cutting issues of climate action and inclusive growth.

Driving inclusion across the OD4D Network

The overall scale of the OD4D network is large, working through six regional hubs that engage in both joint and individual activities relevant to their regional contexts. The regional hubs play a crucial role in identifying strategic entry points, piloting data innovations, creating standards, and building capacity and expertise in governments and civil society.

The hubs are:

· Africa Open Data Network (AODN), based in Kenya
· Data for Development Asia (D4DASIA), based in Cambodia/Malaysia
· Open Data Middle East and North Africa (ODMENA), based in Egypt/Palestine
· Caribbean Open Institute (COI), based in Jamaica
· ILDA, based in Uruguay
· Communauté d’Afrique francophone des données ouvertes (CAFDO), based in Burkina Faso

The hubs will undertake a wide range of activities that aim to foster change by working with multiple stakeholders — governments, civil society, the private sector/industry, technical experts and specialists — and a special focus on working with under-represented communities including women and girls and LGBTQI+. Here are two examples:

· In Latin America, ILDA will lead the development of a machine learning tool, together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and FeminicidioUY, to help feminicide mappers in Latin America target policing and community interventions, reduce gender-based violence, and improve safety and security for women. ILDA will also lead the implementation of this tool in selected countries in the region.

· In the Middle East, ODMENA is developing an open capacity development program in data science, targeting university students and graduates. This program aims at creating a critical mass of emerging leaders that can drive a data agenda. The program is being developed in Palestine but will be extended to other countries in the region.

Amplifying the reach of hubs through global initiatives

In addition to the six hubs, OD4D supports global initiatives that aim to engage gender groups, women’s networks, indigenous communities, and LGBTQI+ communities to bring their needs to the table. This includes the work of the Open Government Partnership that will seek to advance reforms on gender and inclusion by creating and piloting a robust gender analysis tool for open government in the Global South.

OD4D will also support the Global Data Barometer which will deliver a multi-sector comparative analysis of over 100 countries on their policies, practices, and ecosystems that support the collection, sharing and use of government data, including the availability of structured data that can be used to foster AI innovations.

The OD4D network will also once again work collaboratively to shape the 2022 International Open Data Conference under the theme, “Data 4 Development”. This milestone event that will be held in Nairobi, Kenya and support virtual and face-to-face participation will engage multiple data communities and seek to create a vision for improving coordination, impact, and practice among organizations working to advance the responsible use of open data, big data, statistical data, and sectoral data to address development challenges. This event will be a crucial gathering of the global community to learn, share, plan, and collaborate on the future of open data and data for development.

Building on past success

For several years, OD4D has advanced leadership in the Global South to showcase how sharing and using data drives accountability and transparency, supports social innovation and entrepreneurship, and informs more inclusive practices. The peer-reviewed, community-driven book State of Open Data: Histories and Horizons, summarizes a number of these accomplishments over the past decade.

This new phase of action by OD4D is funded by Global Affairs Canada, the Hewlett Foundation, and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Learn more about OD4D.



Open Data for Development (OD4D)

The leading open data partnership around the world, leading data innovation for good. Hosted @IDRC_CRDI, co-funded by @CanDev and @HewlettFoundation