Unlocking Microdata: Experience from International Organizations.
Category: International Association of Survey Statisticians (IASS)
Given the persistent huge data gaps for policy development and enhancing research as well as improving the availability of timely data for measuring the SDG indicators will not only require significant investment in new or improved data collection instruments and data sources, but also making the data already collected by governments, the private sector and the civil society openly available to all users (decision-makers as well as the public at large) in a format which is easily re-usable and machine-readable. It is often the case that basic data that could be used for policy development and compile SDG indicators are available in national statistical agencies and international organization, research institutes and the private sector, but with limited or no access for the wider use .
In such cases, promoting and enhancing access to machine-readable data would allow international organizations, research Institutions, academia and advocacy groups to make use of this data and add value by transforming them into policy analysis and global public goods that can significantly improve the design, formulation, monitoring and evaluation of evidenced-based policies and investment decisions.
The adoption of dissemination policies embracing open data principles and promoting access to non-confidential microdata will therefore ultimately increase the transparency and accountability of national development policies and facilitate the achievement of improved development outcomes, including of the SDG goals and targets.
Disseminating microdata adds transparency, derives additional business value, and promotes open data values. In the spirit of reproducible research, it is now common practice for some international organizations (IOs) to disseminate micro datasets used to generate results of major publications.
This paper will attempt to draw experiences from the international organization on their effort to unlock microdata related to their mandate. In general, an attempt will be made to provide the audiences the motivation for these international organizations to move towards availing microdata, the technology and procedures put in place to provide access to microdata, the internal policy they put in place to realize disseminating microdata, the approaches followed to promote the use of microdata disseminated, the main challenges encountered and future plans. We expect that other international organizations and national statistical offices, research institutes and the private sector dealing in generating data will benefit from this session in opening up access to their microdata to improve better use and justify the return for investment in conducting surveys and censuses.
Keywords: microdata, metadata standards, confidentiality, data anonymization