Reflections from COVID-19 Data Trackers: How to Make Data Useful

As the open governance agenda has evolved over the last decade, one of the constants has been efforts to enable people to use data to enhance transparency, participation, and accountability. This has included initiatives to enable users to track the use of public resources. This work has generated a wealth of insights that should inform how to effectively use data for participation and accountability in response to crises, such as the current pandemic. This report assesses the extent to which recent COVID trackers are building on these insights.

We developed a checklist to evaluate the design of COVID-19 trackers and tools to push for transparency, participation, and accountability to lead to better service delivery, and applied it to six trackers (all featured in the Global Integrity COVID-19, Fiscal Governance & Anti-Corruption Database) to evaluate how much these trackers reflected learnings in the sector.

The good news: trackers in general did give users options to dig into data further. But unfortunately, most were not designed to keep up with fast moving data and resources. And most disconcertingly, trackers were also falling into the “build it and they will come” trap, which has haunted open data tools.

We hope the practical examples we laid out here can help inform future efforts, and prepare us for the challenges in using data to fight corruption and improve livelihoods.

Report

Jorge Florez
Jorge Florez
June 7, 2021