The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to improve our preparedness if we are to tackle a human crisis on a global scale. It has also highlighted the need to plan how public health data should be collected, and how this data should be processed and communicated to the public. As we have seen during the initial months of this planet-wide emergency, every country – without exception – has faced numerous obstacles with regard to the collection of real data with which to develop a response and implement measures to tackle the crisis. The general conclusion has been that it is necessary to publish more data, in response to the demands of different professional and citizens’ groups and in relation to different contexts.
The Government of Catalonia’s Directorate General for Transparency and Open Data (DTDO) wants to open up data to more professional sectors in order to help overcome the health-related, employment-related and economic crises that have been caused by COVID-19. For its part, the Open Data Charter (ODC) is an international organisation that promotes the opening up and usage of data in a way that is transparent and inclusive. The ODC is aware of the importance of monitoring the ways in which governments are responding to the pandemic and the steps they are taking to recover from it. In order to achieve this recovery, we need reliable, disaggregated, complete data that will enable us to determine what resources the government has and how to tackle the public health crisis. With this aim in mind, in September 2020 the Government of Catalonia and the ODC organised the COVID-19 Data Meet-Up.
As part of the joint response to COVID-19, international meetings have taken place in a number of different countries. Producers and users of data have come together in order to identify the data that is already open and to articulate the need to open up the data that is not.
These meetings also aim to define which datasets need to be published in order to provide a holistic view of the impacts of COVID-19; which datasets need to be published or improved in order to best tackle the economic, social and public health crisis; the criteria for standardising the collection, publication and analysis of COVID-19 data; the drawing up of user guides and recommendations for comparing and cross-referencing data at the international level; identifying successful examples of the use of open data in relation to COVID-19; proposing a taxonomy of the metadata that is required in order to construct a useful, operational dataset designed to serve citizens’ needs.
These meetings between professionals have previously been organised in conjunction with the governments of Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.
FOURTH SESSION OF THE COVID-19 DATA MEET-UP
The fourth session of the COVID-19 Data Meet-Up was jointly organised by the Government of Catalonia’s DTDO and the ODC. The Meet-Up focused on three key areas:
– Economic impact
– Social impact and vulnerable groups
– Gender impact
The purpose of this coming-together of professionals was to:
– Discuss the main shortcomings in the collection and processing of data.
– Build resources based on recommendations adapted to suit different contexts.
– Discuss how to obtain reliable, comparable, high-quality data.
Date of the event: 22 September 2020
Organisers: The Government of Catalonia’s Directorate General for Transparency and Open Data and the International Open Data Charter
Number of participants: 35
Areas of focus: Economic, social and gender impact
Duration: 1h 30m (4:00 – 5:30 p.m.)
Computer tool: Zoom
You can read the conclusions of the working groups and access to the links that they provided here.
Participants and facilitators alike found the COVID-19 Data Meet-Up to be of great interest, given the importance of improving the data collection process in order to enable the analysis of said data and to aid the identification of problems and solutions.
Likewise, the groups highlighted the value of bringing together professionals from different disciplines and knowledge areas to discuss the urgent need to improve the open data ecosystem.
However, the time assigned to this discussion was far too short (just one and a half hours) for a deep-dive into each of the areas in question. If the organisers wanted an overview of the needs and demands of different sectors, this objective was achieved comfortably (as demonstrated by the summaries provided by each working group). The organisers should consider holding a follow-up session, with a duration of between four and six hours, in order to continue following the thread of the contributions that have been summarised in this report.