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The data gaps stopping cities tackling critical challenges

The Evidence Map is a free online interactive tool that tracks the availability and characteristics of publicly available, policy relevant-data in G20 countries.

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Data gaps are standing in the way of designing effective policies
Data gaps are standing in the way of designing effective policies

The Economist Group and the global research and public policy organisation The Pew Charitable Trusts, have released what claims to be a first-of-its kind Evidence Map that tracks the availability and characteristics of publicly available policy-relevant data in the G20 countries.

 

It reveals, for instance, that data coverage is far weaker in areas such as financial inclusion and youth unemployment than in the ageing and retirement domain.

 

In conjunction with the online map, the initiative’s report, The Data Imperative, highlights that without publicly available, easily accessible data – supported by metadata and built-in visualisation and analytic tools – government officials, experts in the civil and private sectors and citizens themselves may lack adequate information to judge and debate the merits of competing policy options.

 

Five policy domains

 

The free, online, interactive tool was produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit and assesses data across five policy domains that are central to the future of the G20 nations: ageing and retirement; digital inclusion; disaster risk; financial inclusion; and youth unemployment.

 

The map analyses the availability, accessibility, and core characteristics of expert-defined policy indicators at the international, national, and sub-national levels within the aforementioned domains.

“Incredible advances in communications technologies have made more data available than ever, but our research found too many gaps in areas where countries should be well prepared”

Key findings in the report, which also outlines the map’s methodology include:

  • none of the G20 countries collected more than 60 per cent of the expert-recommended data.
  • the availability of data around youth unemployment and financial inclusion, both of which are pressing issues in many countries, was particularly weak.
  • youth employment was the weakest policy domain in terms of coverage, with only 48 per cent of the relevant data available on average.
  • a nation’s economic development level does not appear to be the main determinant of its data coverage or characteristics. For example, countries like Mexico, Turkey and Argentina, all middle-income countries, performed reasonably well in the analysis.
  • data gaps were best identified by looking at multiple, related policy indicators because few of the challenges facing G20 countries can be understood through the lens of a single data point.
  • international data sources often excel in accessibility and ease of use.
  • data is often free and well documented, but visualisation tools could be improved.
  • only 54 per cent of international data sources and 41 per cent of national sources offered these tools.
  • the ageing and retirement domain had a high level of data coverage on average, with data available for 67 per cent of the relevant indicators.

“Incredible advances in communications technologies have made more data available than ever, but our research found too many gaps in areas where countries should be well prepared,” said Leo Abruzzese, senior global advisor for public policy at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

 

“Data gathering is not inexpensive, but it is money well spent. We hope the Data Map offers guidance in identifying those gaps and directing future investment.”

 

The Evidence Map and the full report are available at www.evidenceinitiative.org.

 

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