The IATI TAG meeting: two big 2014 priorities

As the technical lead of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), DI’s spent quite a bit of time preparing for the IATI TAG (actually, that may be an understatement- it’s been a LOT of time). This is the IATI Technical Advisory Group meeting this January; for those who don’t know, the TAG meeting is an opportunity for people interested in both using and producing IATI data, from all over the world, to exchange information, ideas, and contribute to the development of the standard. It’s a great opportunity for those of us working on IATI to listen to the views of both data users and producers, find out about technical challenges and solutions, and take stock of the bigger picture.

This year’s TAG (as a quick look at the attendee list shows) includes not just representatives of donor government and multilaterals who are publishing, but private foundations, developing country governments, and NGOs/CSOs –so we’re looking forward to some really useful dialogue.

DI’s IATI team has two big priorities, both at the TAG and for 2014:

  1. Making open data useful and meaningful for users in developing countries

How can we support data users in developing countries to access, use and understand information, to help open data have more impact in developing countries? The TAG sees us kick off our joint project with Open Knowledge Foundation: the Open Data Toolkit, which aims to develop a hub for resources and practical support on how to use open data, including IATI data. We’re also giving a practical demonstration of the IATI datastore on Thursday (if you can’t make it to the TAG, here’s our blog on the datastore to give you a flavour). We’re trying to get feedback from as many TAG attendees as possible about what they want to use IATI data for, and how it could be improved. And we will be talking about improving data quality, of course.

But we have bigger, broader questions we want to get your thoughts on:

–          How can we support and enable implementation of common data standards by other open data initiatives?

–          How can we “join up data” to create more meaningful information for developing country stakeholders?

The real benefit to be gained from IATI data will come when it can be dynamically linked to a range of other data sources – such as socio-economic indicators, national and sub-national government budgets, and other resource flows.  Aid data only becomes meaningful, useful information for those within developing countries, if it can be brought alongside data on other resource inflows -“joined up” to build a clear picture of the real world.  DI has been advocating for better data on other resources, based on our wider research and analysis of resource flows into developing countries and our work in East Africa and Nepal with partners.

DI training for CSO representatives on use of open data, Kenya, 2013

DI training for CSO representatives on use of open data, Kenya, 2013

We also recently launched a pilot project in Uganda, which will be exploring the realities of joining up resource data at district level. And lastly we’ve been exploring the potential for common data standards to be developed across a range of global information systems, contributing what we’ve learned from developing the IATI standard to the ongoing discussions.  At the TAG, we’ll be inviting ideas from others on developing common approaches to a range of code and classification challenges for the “joined up data” initiative.

2.     Supporting different development actors to easily publish more, and better, information

The IATI standard needs to adapt and move forward, if it’s to serve the broad range of development actors operating today and build real transparency across all resources. We’re taking part in discussions about:

  • Improving the standard for reporting of humanitarian aid. This follows from our recent workshop with our colleagues at DI’s Global Humanitarian Assistance programme, the FTS and UNOCHA , with the objective of producing recommendations for adaptation of the IATI standard for humanitarian financing.
  • Adapting the standard to make it useful for different publishers, such as implementing agencies, and different funding models and levels
  • Support for NGOs and CSOs to publish to IATI. We’ve been working with Bond in the UK on this and will be bringing a guide to publishing out soon. For more on this, talk to Joni or Wendy.

Who are we? DI’s IATI team at the TAG

Get in touch with us! This year, you’ll find:

Bill Anderson, IATI Technical Lead

Joni Hillman, Aid Transparency Programme Manager

Wendy Rogers, IATI Support Analyst

Matt Bartlett, Programme Coordinator

Ben Webb, Consultant

Steven Flower, Consultant

(and not in Montreal, but no less important, our Kenya-based Technical Analyst Steve Kenei, who supports NGOs to publish…)