None of us could have possibly imagined the situation we are currently facing. However, we have to cope with it and find new ways to adjust to it. Open Data has proven vital for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. This raises important questions about producing, sharing and using Open Data as well as highlighting the need for data-driven decision making.
You might be wondering why it is important to publish data on COVID-19 activities and spending. During these hectic times, decision makers need to make snap judgement with very large implications like: closing schools, deciding who has access to hospital beds or decide if there should be a lockdown in a country. Good quality (Open) Data is vital for making the right decisions.
Some of the countries who have taken the most successful measures, are countries that produce, use and provide accurate and up-to-date data on COVID-19, like Taiwan and Singapore. Open Data and IATI data can thus make a difference in fighting the current pandemic by enabling data-driven decision making for effective interventions.
(Humanitarian) aid organisations can benefit from COVID-19 IATI data for planning interventions, financing them and allocating human resources. Therefore, the IATI Secretary announced the IATI guidelines for publishing on COVID-19 activities and spending. They also organised an online seminar to answer questions related to publishing on COVID-19 activities and spending. Below you can see two of the slides on the publishing guidelines where they recommend applying the humanitarian scope, humanitarian flag and adding COVID-19 in the title of activities.
Even though these are uncertain and difficult times, it was very nice to see the IATI community come together in action. All realising the relevance of Open Data in combating the pandemic. If you want to see the seminar, you can do so here. If you are interested in the questions which were raised you can find the transcript here. If you want to provide input for the guidelines you can do so here until the 20th of April.
The questions raised during the seminar were quite diverse, ranging from how to achieve timeliness, to how to highlight that advisory support is COVID-19 related. There were also a few questions on consistency and data quality, as some organisations already started publishing COVID-19 IATI data before the guidelines were made. These questions highlighted the relevance of good quality data and good quality publications, as the data can only be used effectively if it is consistent, clear and usable.
As mentioned before, time is of the essence during this crisis. We want to support you to start publishing your COVID-19 activities and spending data, as soon as possible. Please reach out to us if you are interested to do so. Some interesting Open Data sources on COVID-19 can be found below.