How the Land Portal is helping overcome data barriers
Having and using information has always been a powerful force for change, helping to fight corruption, enabling citizens to participate more fully in public life and allowing people from all walks of life to exercise their fundamental human rights. We live in a time when paradoxical topics such as ‘fake news’ and ‘big data’ are part of our everyday lives. These discussions are symptomatic and reflective of how we now, more than ever, need governments and heads of state, policy makers and change makers, civil society, academia and the private sector alike, to make evidence-based decisions, track progress and clearly measure accountability.
The “data revolution”, which not only includes an increasing demand for data and its production, but also that it be delivered to the right people and in the right format, is well underway. At the Land Portal, we know poor land users face many barriers when it comes to making their voices heard at all levels of the spectrum, from national to international. More often than not, this is not due to a lack of information about land, but rather, disparities in information visibility, accessibility, consistency and completeness. The Land Portal aids organizations both big and small, in bringing data that can often get stuck in the dark corners of the web, to the forefront, and to life!
In a recent workshop we hosted with colleagues from like-minded institutions, aimed to determine an action plan to ensure that data and monitoring initiatives result in concrete actions to secure land rights. The following sentiment was reverberated widely: “The most inspiring thing, based on my observation from the workshop, is that there is plethora of tools developed and used by different organizations to collect data on land rights. While this provides an opportunity for Civil Society Organizations to tap on, it requires CSOs to be more coordinated and agree on the concepts, standards and operability of data. More regional and in-country workshops on data ecosystem are needed to build sustained understanding and coordinated efforts on data collection, management, use, re-purposing and re-use.”
From this type of feedback, we have learnt that there is indeed a need and desire to use data in a systematic way to improve work from project planning at the grassroots level, to decision making at policy and international levels. It will require a collective effort to ensure that the siloes, and barriers in making this possible, are indeed broken down.
Within this context, it is with great pleasure that we have collaborated with the Digital Impact Alliance at the United Nations Foundation to create a case study highlight the work of the Land Portal. The case study, entitled “Overcoming Land Data Siloes: The role of data ecosystems in achieving the global development goals” delves briefly into the background of our work, our organization’s objectives, the concrete actions we take to meet these objectives, as well as the lessons we have learnt throughout our years as an institution. We want to help overcome land data siloes, so that all land related information and data can reach as many people as possible and may eventually get into the hands and minds of those who are in a position to implement change.
We realize that the breadth and intricacies of what we do, and their impacts, are not always straightforward. In line with the Digital Impact Alliance’s goals, we believe that technology of all types has the potential to change lives by empowering people around the world with the information and skills they need to make informed decisions that affect their lives, as well as to make their voices heard.