Category Archives: online discussion


A critical moment to engage young people

This post is by Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat. In 2013, the Commonwealth launched the first-ever global Youth Development Index, which measures the status of young people in 170 countries around the world. This blog has been posted as part of the Wikiprogress discussion on “Youth well-being: measuring what matters!

As the world deliberates on the post-2015 agenda, there has never been a more critical moment to engage young people. The inclusion of youth perspectives, and the energy, diversity and talent that young people bring, is a clear-cut imperative. Young people have an incredible amount to offer to national development processes, and, with the right support and opportunities, can be empowered to realise their full potential.

Today, almost half of the world’s population (48.9%, according to Euromonitor International) is aged under 30, and the proportion is generally much higher in developing countries. It is therefore essential that young people’s capabilities are leveraged and they are recognised as drivers of sustainable development.

At the Commonwealth, we strongly believe that the empowerment of young people is a vital and valuable investment. Through the Commonwealth Youth Programme, we have spent the past 40 years providing assistance to our 53 member governments in the creation and implementation of youth-related policies and programmes.

We provide technical assistance for the development of national youth policies, and advocate for the professionalisation of youth development work. We are also actively committed to expanding the ways in which young people can engage with decision-makers, and in facilitating the establishment of youth-led organisations and networks.

However, attempting to achieve these targets without a baseline from which to measure progress would be a futile endeavour. Accordingly, in 2013 we launched the first ever global Youth Development Index (YDI), a tool to track global progress on youth development in 170 countries.

The YDI is a composite measure that includes basic needs such as health, nutrition and adequate education, along with secondary needs such as political, economic and social participation. It was formulated to help governments, decision-makers and stakeholders identify and learn from areas of success, pinpoint priority investment areas, and track progress over time.

It gauges youth development according to 15 indicators that are grouped into five key domains: Education, Health and Well-being, Employment, Civic Participation and Political Participation. Similar to the Human Development Index, the YDI calculates a score for each country between 0–1 that indicates the national average. It then groups countries into three key categories: High youth development, Medium youth development and Low youth development.

Since its launch, the YDI has also become a basis for data advocacy, highlighting the importance of gathering national statistics on key indicators of youth development. Its findings also underscore the complex and multiple issues facing young people today, and the urgent need to create enabling youth structures and environments.

Young people will be both the heirs and the champions of the post-2015 agenda. We must commit to investing in their participation and empowerment; otherwise, we run the risk of silencing and constraining this powerful generation.
Katherine Ellis is Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat. With over 20 years in the private, public and civil society sectors with extensive expertise in youth development, organizational leadership and cross-sectoral collaboration, she is responsible for promoting the social, political and economic empowerment of young people across the 53 Commonwealth member countries.’

Follow @ComSecKatherine @ComSecYouth 

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Wikiprogress focus on youth well-being

In the coming months, Wikiprogress activities will focus on youth well-being, as part of the Web-COSI vision of “statistics for all”, starting with an online discussion taking part from December 1-15, and the launch of a new Wikiprogress Youth Portal. Kate Scrivens, Wikiprogress Manager, gives an overview of the upcoming events and initiatives.

There are more youth living in the world today than at any other time in human history. There are now an unprecedented 1.8 billion adolescents and young adults aged between 10 and 24, making up over a quarter of the world population, according to a special reportpublished by the United Nations Population Fund this year. However, despite making up such a significant share of the world population, young people’s voices are not always heard in measurement and policy debates, where the concerns of older adults often predominate. Finding ways to better integrate young people’s concerns into policy, and ensure their well-being needs are being met are therefore pressing goals for society. As the UN report puts it, “A world in which a quarter of humanity is without full enjoyment of rights is a world without the basic building blocks for change and progress.”

In the coming months, Wikiprogress will be focusing on youth well-being, in order to explore the concerns of the younger generation in more depth and also to improve the way that the site caters to young people’s needs. This is part of Wikiprogress’ involvement with the EC-funded Web-COSI project, which aims to improve the involvement of all parts of society with well-being and progress statistics.

Online discussion
From the 1-15 December, we will be hosting an online discussion on youth well-being, inspired by the European launch of the Global Youth Wellbeing Index this week. Its aims will be to map out the main issues for youth well-being and to identify some of the key organisations and initiatives working in the field. The discussion will address the following broad questions:

  • What is the state of youth well-being today?
  • What are the most important dimensions of well-being for young people?
  • What policies have had the most impact on youth well-being in the past? Provide examples of successful initiatives.
  • How can we ensure that young people’s needs are reflected in the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals agenda?

We are looking to hear from students and young people from around the world, to gain different perspectives on this issue, as well as to hear from experts and practitioners who have experience and knowledge of youth well-being.

Online debate in early 2015
Following on from the online discussion in December, Wikiprogress intends to pick up on some of the key issues and explore them at more length and in more depth through an online debate being hosted in partnership with CATALYST – another EC-funded project. The debate will run for several weeks, gathering input to feed into a report on priorities for youth well-being and policy that can be presented to decision makers. We’ll be writing more about this debate as the time gets closer.

Wikiprogress Youth Portal & Wikiprogress University
In order to make the content on Wikiprogress more accessible and relevant for young people, we have developed a new Youth Portal on the site. The aim of this portal is to bring together resources that are of particular interest to young people who want to find out more about measures and policies to foster well-being and social progress. It will highlight videos and other accessible content, as well as putting a spotlight on activities and initiatives working on youth issues. It will also bring together information on opportunities to get more involved in the activities and events of the Wikiprogress community, such as Youth Conferences and volunteering and interning opportunities.

A major part of the Youth Portal is the new Wikiprogress University programme. Wikiprogress University is intended to be an online space where students can:

  • Find out about opportunities to contribute to the platform, or establish a partnership between their university and Wikiprogress.
  • Access educational resources that explain about key issues in the area of well-being and progress measurement.
  • Find out about courses and training that would allow them to develop useful skills for working in the fields of well-being policy, research or advocacy.

Wikiprogress University and the Youth Portal are both works in progress, and we welcome ideas and suggestions to make the projects as useful to young people as possible, and we will welcome all contributions to our online discussion and upcoming debate.

If you are interested in finding out more about any of these activities, if you work for an organisation that specialises in youth issues, if you are a student or administrator for a course on well-being or progress issues, or if you have any ideas for content or news to put on our Youth Portal and social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) we would love to hear from you – just email or tweet us @wikiprogress.

Kate Scrivens

Data-Pop Alliance: a global alliance and call for a people-centered Big Data revolution

This May 2014 launch blog by Data-Pop Alliance’s leadership: Emmanuel Letouzé, Claire Melamed, Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, Phuong Pham, Emma Samman and Patrick Vinck explains why they started this alliance. This post is part of the Wikiprogress discussion on “Making data more accessible to society at large“.

As our lives have become increasingly digital, the amount and variety of data that the world’s population generates every day is growing exponentially, as are our capacities to extract ‘insights’ from them. The potential of ‘Big Data’ for human development and humanitarian action has stirred a great deal of both excitement and skepticism since the concept became mainstream at the dawn of the decade. But simply opposing the ‘promise and perils’ of Big Data is a dead end; recognizing their co-existence a mere starting point.

Looking a generation ahead, observing the persistent prevalence of absolute poverty, the rise of global inequality, and the many walls and ceilings impeding well-being, we wondered: what will it take for Big Data to have by then served the cause of human progress to the best of its ability and ours, as part of the larger “data revolution”? Our answer—our contribution—is the creation of the Data-Pop Alliance.

There is no shortage of valuable publications and conferences, initiatives and working groups, proofs of concepts and lab projects, in the fast expanding universe of ‘Big Data for social good’. But we are frustrated by its high level of institutional fragmentation and corresponding lack of a coherent intellectual direction—especially in relation to the context and concerns of poor developing countries. Individual projects and research do not sufficiently build upon or learn from each other, and movement beyond the project and pilot stage towards the use of Big Data at scale will thus be difficult and probably inefficient. Too many discussions are rooted in ideologies and assumptions rather than in solid empirical findings and a clear theory of social change.

“Big Data must increase and not reduce the power of citizens”

What we saw and see as missing is ‘something’—a player or a group of players—serving as a connecting hub, sounding board, and driving force, with the credibility and agility, the intent and capacity, to promote the kind of ‘Big Data revolution’ we feel is needed. What brought us and our organizations together is the conviction that Big Data must increase and not reduce the power of citizens: that the kinds of low granularity, high frequency, digital personal data (these digital “breadcrumbs”) passively emitted by humans ought to be leveraged to impact policies and politics for the benefit of people.  We want to see Big Data amplify the voice and knowledge of the emitters of data, not just improve the insights and means of surveillance of corporations and governments. This will require a better informed, more empowered, global citizenry, and a deeper understanding of the appropriate balance between individual, social, governmental, and commercial interests—with the overarching ethical dimensions and implications.
This is why we created the Data-Pop Alliance: to spur a ‘humanistic’, people-centered, Big Data revolution, cautiously, humbly but resolutely, by providing an enabling environment for learning, information sharing, experimentation, evaluation and capacity building; to catalyze and coordinate developments and innovations in the use of Big Data to help serve the cause of human progress.
Data-Pop Alliance will be a place for the exchange of ideas and information and a broker and implementer of projects.  We believe that structural impact will only come about through a range of connected activities, rather than through a single big initiative or a myriad of disjointed projects. We don’t know yet how Big Data can be best used for human development and social progress. Answers will come from a combination of opportunistic and strategic decisions and actions both on the supply and demand sides of the field. But these should be taken with an eye on the main prize: a future where Big Data improves lives and reduces inequalities, rather than one characterized by a new and widening digital divide.
It is only by linking and leveraging skills, perspectives, and resources in an inter-disciplinary, systematic, and collegial manner that we will collectively be able to make the most of the tremendous potential offered by Big Data to create more agile and more accountable sociopolitical ecosystems, while avoiding its main traps and pitfalls. In this, we are fortunate enough to be joined by an incredible number of institutional and individual partners in a wide range of fields and sectors, from computer science to humanitarian assistance, official statistics to statistical machine-learning, working in small non-governmental organizations and large international institutions, official bodies and academic establishments.
Of course, differences of views are and will be represented in Data-Pop Alliance—along, and at times at odds with, ‘expected’ political lines and economic interests. An obviously contentious question is: in a post-Snowden era, how much, how, by and for whom, when and for what purpose, should cell-phone data be collected, shared and analyzed? Addressing that question—and many others—won’t be easy. But our conviction, based on the lessons of past revolutions and our own experiences, is that the confrontation of competing perspectives coupled with the constant recall of our common objectives is the best and indeed only way to create constructive change.
And so this ‘launch blog post’ is also a call to action and connection to everyone willing to contribute to our mission statement: promoting a people-centered Big Data revolution for development and social progress.
Find out more about the Wikiprogress discussion on:

Democratising data: the need to make statistics more accessible to everyone

The world of statistics is changing: traditionally the domain of experts alone, new technologies and methods of communication have the potential to open up a range of different data to new audiences, and to make statistics more accessible to everyone. From 11-24 June, Wikiprogress is hosting an online discussion on the role of open data, communication and technology in making data more accessible for society at large. This blog, by Kate Scrivens, Wikiprogress Project Manager, sets out some of the key issues for the discussion.
Data of the people, by the people and for the people

For centuries, the primary purpose of government data, from the Domesday Book to the present day, has been to inform decision-making at the very highest levels. However, the last decade or so has seen an increasing movement towards ‘democratising data’, and making statistics available that are more relevant to a broader public. The shift towards a ‘beyond GDP’ mind-set, focusing on developing better and broader measures of people’s well-being, is an essential step in developing statistics that are more relevant to people’s lives. But democratising data is also about ensuring that relevant statistics are more easily accessible to a wider public.
Thanks to the internet and other innovative technologies, people can engage with data in an increasing number of ways: not only as consumers of new types of information, but also as interpreters, communicators and even producers of data.
People as data interpreters: the power of Open Data

Open data are data that people are ‘free to use, re-use and redistribute — without any legal, technological or social restriction’, according to the Open Knowledge Foundation.  By opening up previously restricted data – from government and other sources – for universal use, citizens have the chance to be much more directly involved in decision-making, and to be better informed about issues that affect their own well-being. For example, people looking to move to a new town, can compare data on air quality, schools, hospitals, or other factors that matter most to them in order to select the best place to live. They can also use the same data to shine a spotlight on areas where improvement is needed, thereby strengthening the accountability of government and other institutions.
Opening up access to data can be empowering, but not everyone has the necessary skills or patience to make the most of raw data. Open Data has the biggest impact when they are made available in an easily accessible format by people acting as ‘data interpreters’, with the necessary analytical and technical skills to re-use the data in innovative, new ways, such as creating mobile apps and other technologies. For example,, showcases a large selection of apps created using European public data, from an app to monitor carbon monoxide emissions across Europe, to one helping road users identify traffic accident hotspots. For the power of Open Data to be evenly shared across society, however, capacity-building is crucial. Organisations such as the School of Data, exist for exactly this purpose: to provide engaged citizens with the skills they need to make the most of data. For many, this kind of power shift is the true meaning of the “data revolution” (read more hereand here).
People as data communicators: visualisation and storytelling

Creating mobile apps is just one way of re-using data. An equally powerful way of making statistics more accessible to a broader audience is through the use of storytelling to convey the underlying meaning of the data. This can be done by the data producers themselves (such as government or statistical agencies) or by intermediaries such as data journalists, civil society organisations or anyone with an interest in finding the best way to communicate the key messages of datasets. Stories can be told in the traditional way, through narrative text, or they can be conveyed in a more visual manner – through infographics and charts that organise the data in such a way that the meaning is immediately apparent. Data visualisations can be incredibly beautiful, but their importance goes beyond aesthetics: they provide a unique means of highlighting new patterns in statistics and looking at the world in a different way. Visualisations can be static, or they can be interactive and dynamic, such as the animated trends from, which visualise the evolution in development indicators such as child mortality and HIV prevalence to gain new insight.
Telling a story around statistics, either through words or visualisations, is not without its pitfalls and data communicators need to be responsible storytellers, not misrepresenting the data to meet their own needs.  Data visualisation as a mass communication tool is a relatively new discipline and a better understanding of best practice and good examples would be a helpful resource for data communicators.
People as data producers: crowdsourcing statistics through digital technology

Finally, digital technologies mean that members of the public can have greater access to statistics by participating themselves as data producers. The prevalence of accessible yet sophisticated mapping technology through mobile platforms provides a means to crowdsource data from members of the public. While this is a new area, there are a number of examples of crowdsourced data related to progress and well-being statistics such as Mappiness– an app to monitor levels of subjective well-being in the UK, Open Elm Map – which uses community-generated data to track Dutch Elm Disease, Harrassmap – which uses crowdsourced data to highlight sexual harassment hotspots in Egypt, and the Ushadi platform, which was originally used to track political violence in Kenya and which now encompasses a number of open-source platforms. Crowdsourced data is perhaps the ultimate in democratising data: empowering people to be producers as well as consumers of data.
Best practices and good examples

It is clear that making data more accessible to society at large covers a broad range of issues. Technological advances provide a huge potential for democratising data, but many of these areas are new or evolving quickly. There is a need to identify best practices and good examples in the areas of Open Data, visualisation, and crowdsourcing technologies in order to provide guidance to those interested in making data more accessible.
This online discussion is an opportunity for the Wikiprogress community to hear from individuals and organisations with experience in these areas. In particular we’d like answers to the following questions:

  • What role can Open Data play to increase citizen’s engagement with well-being and progress statistics?
  • How can data visualisation and storytelling be used to increase our understanding of data? What are the best examples of data visualisation?
  • What are the best examples of crowd-sourced data related to well-being and progress?

We look forward to hearing from you in the discussion!

What’s missing from the data revolution? People.

Written by Neva Frecheville, Co-chair, Beyond 2015, Lead Analyst Post-MDGs, CAFOD. This post is in the lead up to the Wikiprogress discussion on “Making data more accessible to society at large“.

I find the post-2015 data debate both fascinating and disappointing, failing as it does in one key area.

It’s ignoring power.

The UN High Level Panel report on the post-2015 development agenda confirmed that the data revolution is high on the political agenda by including it as one of their five transformational shifts. Since then, the conversation has snowballed, with some heavy weights adding their support.
But I’d argue that at present, the data revolution is too technocratic to change the world. While they’re right that the lack of adequate data is a serious obstacle to good evidence based policy (and practice), the right statistics alone will not change the world. Without looking at the power dynamics behind this ‘revolution’, very little is transformational. Serious questions need to be asked about whose data is captured, by whom, and who has the ability to access, define and interpret it. Whereas the wider open data debate has cottoned on to the importance of citizen empowerment and participation and frames the debate as participation, accountability and transparency, it’s too little referenced in the post-2015 arena.
Who are the people who are meant to benefit the most from the post-2015 development agenda? We all have a responsibility to ensure that those most disenfranchised from decision-making are at the centre of the post-2015 debate. This means those living in the greatest poverty and experiencing the greatest exclusion – especially if we want to achieve the other rallying cry to ‘leave no one behind.’
One of the biggest criticisms of the MDGs is that they were created in the dark corridors and behind the closed doors of global politics at the end of the millennium. Ostensibly, the world is different now – the global conversation,outreach that has seen 1.3 million people share their priorities, and negotiations broadcast online are testament to an increasingly connected world . But this is a conversation that has to include those at the margins in a way that understands the unequal labyrinths of power in which they operate.
Unless we have a better understanding of the data revolution in the context of power dynamics it will not succeed in delivering real, positive change on the ground. During participatory research in 29 countries, people living in poverty articulated their aspirations as freedom from discrimination and oppression, the ability to participate in the decision which affect their lives, social inclusion and a sense of hope. In a world of rising inequalities, people describe poverty and marginalisation as the denial of the rights that confer equality and dignity. But tick box exercises, or even formal legislative recognition of those rights, do not automatically translate into concrete outcomes. For the poorest, the reality experienced through the behaviour of government officials and institutional representatives is one of discrimination and intolerance.
The testimony of one participant from Chennai in India bears witness to the lack of ownership that marginalised people experience when articulating their reality: “Our rights of privacy, freedom are not respected… In fact, the society knows that we are not heard. Often the view is that what we say should not be taken at face value… Even our truths get interrogated.” Without ensuring that people have control of what data is collected, how it is represented and used, and the decisions it is used to inform, this dynamic is not going to change.
So what are the solutions? Participate findings have shown that a participatory approach to governance, that engages with local knowledge, strengthens people’s voices, and enables people to have influence and hold decision-makers to account, has the potential to be transformational. But the meaningful participation of people living in poverty in the creation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies won’t take place if the data which determines policies and priorities is extracted and does nothing to strengthen their hand.
The data revolution must be built from the bottom up, linking local to global. This means investment in community organisation and capacity development, and enabling spaces for the collective action of marginalised communities to emerge. This means empowering citizens – especially the poorest and most marginalised – to participate in the data revolution by developing the skills and capacity of people living in poverty to define the rights that matter most to them, capture and make use of this data, be included in creating, monitoring and implementing policies, and hold institutions to account based on this data.
Neva Frecheville, CAFOD
This blog first appeared on, here


Talking ’bout a (data) revolution? Then let’s make it truly revolutionary

Written by Ben Taylor, Open Development Consultant with Twaweza, working on citizens’ agency and open government in East Africa. He blogs at and tweets as @mtega. This post is written in a personal capacity and does not necessarily represent the views of Twaweza. This post is in the lead up to the Wikiprogress discussion on “Making data more accessible to society at large“.

“We call for a data revolution,” said the report of the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda, “with a new international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information available to citizens. We should actively take advantage of new technology, crowd sourcing, and improved connectivity to empower people with information on the progress towards the targets.”
As someone who works in the field of data and development, I find this idea exciting – but have a couple of problems with how it is being interpreted.
First, a revolution, by definition, should represent a radical shift in power, but amid the competing views on what the revolution should look like, this point is in danger of being forgotten.
Statisticians, data scientists and development policy wonks alike have jumped on the idea of a data revolution with delight. Stats boffins see it as an opportunity to get the funding needed to make sure national statistics offices can do their jobs properly. Policy wonks see it as a chance to get more reliable data with which to compare progress in Malawi and Malaysia, say. And the tech and data gurus are looking for recognition for a wider range of data sources, beyond household surveys.
But, in my view, all these envisioned benefits are about giving powerful people in Washington, London and Geneva (etc.) increased access to more and better data on development progress.
This was what I heard at a meeting I attended at the end of January, on data and accountability for the post-2015 development framework. I found it to be disappointingly unambitious.
Don’t get me wrong, more and better data, better monitoring of global commitments and better-informed policy debates are all valid goals. But can’t we be more radical, more ambitious, more revolutionary?
Look again at the first sentence of this post – the clue is in the final word. Let’s improve the quality and availability of data to citizens. It’s about changing the relationship between governments and their citizens (or rather between citizens and their governments). That has the potential to be far more transformative, even emancipatory.
The real potential of the data revolution idea comes when it’s combined with another interesting proposal in the same report:
“Responsive and legitimate institutions should encourage the rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech and the media, open political choice, access to justice, and accountable government and public institutions. We need a transparency revolution, so citizens can see exactly where and how taxes, aid and revenues from extractive industries are spent. These are ends as well as means.”
Did you spot that word again: revolution? Blend these two revolutions together – data and transparency – with a generous dash of political freedoms, and we’re really starting to get somewhere.
It’s when data goes beyond reporting on poor people’s lives and starts to provide those people with the data and information to shape change for themselves that it starts to get interesting. And that means something quite different to the way the ‘data revolution’ was being discussed in New York.
There’s another mistake we could easily make, particularly those of us who see the data revolution as an opportunity to put citizens in the driving seat: the potential of data to empower citizens is clear, but we need to be realistic about how this can be achieved. Publish-and-they-will-come is not enough. We need to be much better at using data, at making it useful and interesting to citizens.
This means starting with understanding who those people are and what their interests are. It means asking who they currently turn to for information and for support when trying to get things done. It means asking whether data (in its modern sense) is really the tool you need – or if radio, noticeboards or community organising might be more appropriate. If data are involved, it means presenting it in ways that are meaningful and interesting. That means disaggregation to a very local level – not national or even district level, but the level of the individual school or village – and comparisons and narratives that bring the data to life. And it means thinking seriously about how you expect data to deliver change.
‘Infomediaries’ have a key role to play: acting as a bridge between data and people, and not only finding stories from screens full of numbers but being able to tell those stories in ways that engage and inspire citizens to act. And in many cases, citizens may turn to those same ‘infomediaries’ to support them – to amplify their voices, to play the games that deliver change in practice. I’m talking most obviously about the media, but also about local politicians, communities and religious leaders.
I realise I am asking for both ambition and realism. But that’s not necessarily a contradiction. If we can be revolutionary in our aims and practical in how we achieve them, then we will have a data revolution worthy of the name.

Ben Taylor

This blog first appeared on, here

To find out more about the Wikiprogress discussion on Making data more accessible to society at large: the role open data, communication and technology”.

Citizen engagement in well-being statistics, an example of good practice

Do you have any examples of good practice in citizen engagement in well-being and progress statistics?
A decade on from its first publication of Measures of Australia’s Progress (MAP) and in response to the burgeoning domestic and international interest in measuring progress and wellbeing, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) considered it was timely to review whether MAP was still measuring those aspects of life that matter most to Australians. In 2011-2012, we undertook a broad-ranging consultation that asked Australians ‘What is important to you for national progress?’ The feedback the ABS received was in the form of aspirational statements. 

The ABS’s method for bringing the consultation feedback together has been iterative. That is, following each phase of the consultation process, the ABS has undertaken a careful and methodical thematic analysis of the feedback received; drawing out and grouping common themes, articulating the important elements of those ideas and refining the aspirations and views expressed by participants. The outcome has been a set of aspirations for national progress that has evolved throughout the consultation process that the ABS hopes resonate with Australians.

In consultation with our Expert Reference Group, we decided upon a multi-faceted consultation model with people drawn from the areas of society shown below. The government, community, business and academic sectors were all represented, as were particular groups through representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. A balance of representation across the various sectors was sought as was a gender and age balance. The following diagram shows the MAP consultation groups and channels.

We consulted directly with around 1000 people and indirectly with many more through social media, utilizing participant networks. We also gathered information through one point of contact who then gathered input from a range of constituents. We used a multi-stream consultation, targeting a variety of audiences. This provided us with a wide representation of views within a limited budget.

The consultation was launched through a national statistical conference by the Australian Statistician where Australians were invited to participate through submissions, workshops and a variety of social media tools. This launch was accompanied by a feature article and media releases.

The whole of the consultation process, including the results, has been reported back to Australians in Measures of Australia’s Progress – Aspirations for our nation: a conversation with Australians about progress 2013 ABS 1370.0.00.002.

Another key contributor to the success of the MAP consultation was having a clear consultation model. This tool allowed us to visually represent key concepts to participants , such as Progress as an unambiguous movement of society in a positive direction toward an identified aspiration or goal. We also used it to clarify the stages of the consultation that the ABS and participants would contribute to (i.e. Participants provided the aspirations for progress whilst ABS will provide the measures). We used this model to convey and explain the purpose of the consultation – to establish what was important for progress – and that looking at available measures was a subsequent activity. In this way we ensured that the feedback would provide all of the important areas of progress, without reference to whether or not they are currently measurable.

Lessons learned from the MAP consultation were that it’s important to engage and include the media in any campaign, both traditional and social. As ABS was launching into the ‘new’ social media space we learned to be guided by our staff who had skills in this area and listened to their advice about using more informal language and tone and allowing for humour. With such a quick response tool as social media we needed to be prepared and had 3 months worth of conversations starters, prominent Australian contributions, articles of interest etc. With this, we also found that we needed to be flexible enough to respond to conversation threads, rather than ploughing on with our pre-arranged blog schedule. The MAP 2.0 blog needed a dedicated staff member to ensure that the ABS and participants received the benefits that we wanted.

Championship of the consultation within the media, from our prominent Australians and by our ABS leaders also ensured that interest in the project was high and obstacles were removed early. Rather than talking to our traditional data users, we chose to engage in a much broader based consultation. This approach delivered us the broad ranging views that we needed in order to refresh MAP and gather new ideas about progress.

What role can technology play in improving citizen engagement with well-being and progress statistics?

We used multiple modes to contact our audiences, for example social media (which captured a younger cohort), online, paper, face to face, interactive, media. Many of these processes were able to be undertaken simultaneously which helped make the process efficient, in terms of time and cost.

The MAP consultation aimed to promote a conversation about progress. Even though blogs are one of the oldest social media tools, they have many advantages as an engagement tool, and the MAP 2.0 blog proved a successful way of inspiring interest in the topic of national progress, and enabling us to quickly gain insights into people’s views on progress. The blog allowed a range of responses from short replies to more lengthy and complex replies. One aspect of promoting interest in the blog and the consultation was to post contributions from prominent Australians, from entrepreneurs through to sports people. Media outlets picked up on these contributions and a series of interviews and radio talk back sessions followed, further promoting and broadening ‘the conversation’ about progress. ABS Facebook and twitter were used to channel people to the MAP 2.0 blog. We felt our social media campaign was successful with many 1000’s of website hits and page visits and hundreds of quality comments that we could use.

We developed a list of MAP Community contacts during the consultation and used these to tap into further online networks. We linked to relevant progress and wellbeing sites, particularly by developing innovative infographics that captured interest and imagination, for example our Progress MAP below. 

Click map to enlarge. 

We developed and produced an promotional video, using contributions from our prominent Australians, to capture the aspirational spirit of the consultation. This was shown at forums and online.

David Skutenko

Director, Social and Progress Reporting, ABS

Wikiprogress and partners invite you to participate in an online discussion from 22 – 30 April 

  • How can citizen engagement improve the development and use of well-being and progress statistics?
  • Do you have any examples of good practice in citizen engagement in well-being and progress statistics?
  • What role can technology – such as mobile apps or interactive web platforms – play in improving citizen engagement with well-being and progress statistics?

To leave a comment, click here and scroll to the section entitled “Contribute!”

Here is the short link to the page: 
Follow the Twitter hashtag #CitizenEngagement and #StatsForAll

You may contact us or send comments via:

Where is Happy City?

This blog, written by Happy City‘s Sam Wren-Lewis, explains the Happy City Index and how it will help better measure and understand individual’s wellbeing. The post is a part of Wikiprogress‘ current online discussion on “Engaging citizens in well-being and progress statistics“. Feel free to join and leave a comment!

We all want to be happy – we care about how well our lives are going for us. For this reason, the evaluation of our wellbeing has the power to engage and enthuse us. The measurement of wellbeing need not merely be the collection of data, but can inspire people to focus on what really matters to them.

Happy City is a social enterprise that aims for happiness to be taken seriously by individuals, communities and local policy makers. We design and deliver a range of training, projects and communications to help make this shift – drawing attention to, and connecting up, the things in a city that enable individuals and communities to flourish.

At the heart of this change is a new measure of prosperity in cities, namely the Happy City Index, which we are currently co-creating with NEF and other local and national partners. There have recently been many “beyond GDP” initiatives, introducing new measures of prosperity on national and international levels. However, nothing has been developed which fits what is required for individuals and their neighbourhoods, communities, towns, or cities across the UK and beyond. The Happy City Index aims to bridge this divide. It is an accessible, practical, meaningful and helpful tool for individual citizens, community organisations and policymakers to assess and influence wellbeing.

We have gathered together an exceptional partnership of world leaders in the field of wellbeing measurement. The Index will combine pre-existing big data on the drivers of wellbeing (such as the economy, health, education) with primary data about how individuals and communities across the city are doing in terms of their sense of belonging, purpose, engagement, and other aspects of their wellbeing.

The important point for this discussion is that the Happy City Index aims not merely to change WHAT we measure, but WHY and HOW. It aims to engage and enthuse individuals and policymakers in the process of understanding and improving their happiness.

For individual users, the process will be educational, engaging and productive. For example, as I answer the simple survey questions online, I start to understand more about what influences my happiness. As I see my results in fun, visual and easy to understand ways, I start to see which aspects of my life could give the greatest boost to my wellbeing. In addition, when those results link up with the ‘Community Happiness Bank’ – a city-wide database of local groups, events and activities, I can discover the things within streets of my house that could enable me to improve my wellbeing. Users can revisit the website and app over time to monitor their progress, compare how they are doing with others, and find continual inspiration for ways in which they can improve their lives.

We have received a great deal of interest from individuals, community organisations and policymakers, who all believe that this process can enable people to better assess and take control of how well their lives are going.
The community engagement phase of the project will consist in a variety of on- and off-line tools, activities and events. On-line, users can assess and improve their wellbeing over time in the ways discussed above. This, in addition to a city-wide representative sample survey, can enable people to take ownership of a city measure of wellbeing. Off-line, community organisations can begin to involve their users in assessing the benefits that they aim to provide. Workshops and events across the city will bring the Index to life, enabling users to fully explore the survey questions using a range of methods, from sharing stories to interacting with (Health Robinson style) wellbeing measurement machines.

We believe the act of engaging communities in the measurement of their wellbeing in this way will provide them with the knowledge and capacity to build their own happiness and resilience. In addition, it puts the promotion of wellbeing on the local policy agenda, thereby providing policymakers with the power to make decisions that more directly improve people’s lives.

See Also: 

Why engage citizens in wellbeing data?

This blog by Salema Gulbahar leads up to the Wikiprogress online discussion on engaging citizens in well-being and progress statistics. This post explores why we should engage citizen in well-being data and how this is being done.

Are we measuring the right things?

Are our lives getting better? Data and statistics for measuring well-being and progress should answer these questions and enable us to understand what drives the well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done in order to achieve greater progress for all.

“Give citizens the wellbeing data they need,” says the ‘Policy and Wellbeing report commissioned by the Legatum Institute, as better data on well-being can increase peoples choices and ability to make an informed choice. When young people make a choice about their career path or a job, they know what they can earn and what they have to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had data on how that job may impact their well-being?

If citizens, governments, schools and employers had better data on progress and well-being and used this data, then decisions made about which services to fund, cut and develop would be different. For example, governments would focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners and not on long prison sentences.

Enabling and engaging citizens in well-being data will allow society as a whole to make more informed decisions and ensure that we measure what matters!

How can citizens get involved?

Citizen engagement in well-being data can range from citizens being actively engaged in a) politics and policy making where they can influence the agenda and what is measured, b) the feedback loop of services they are using via questionnaires, and c) being active user and producers of information and data via simple mobile applications. Below are a few examples:

The Santa Monica Wellbeing Project (video above) in California is a city-wide initiative which engages its citizen in well-being data, throughout the life cycle of the project by i) defining well-being as it relates to the community, ii) creating a new tool to measure well-being in the community and iii) working with the entire community to actively improve the conditions needed for people to thrive.

In 2013, a ‘friends and family test was introduced by National Health Service in the United Kingdom where patients were asked within 48 hours of using a service if they would ‘recommend this service to friends and family’. Improvements in services can been seen over time and citizens feel more empowered, as well. Results are now available.

Three of my neighbours were burgled over a few days, whilst they slept in their homes. I found out when the third and last victim decided to post a little note on everyone’s door. So when I read about the United Sates and the mobile application which allows law enforcement agencies and citizens to provide real time data on crime, I could see how this tool would make a real difference to my well-being.

Citizen engagement has the potential to drive the demand, supply and use of well-being and progress data and statistics. Governments, employers and schools can enhance the well-being of citizens by providing them with information about the relationship between everyday choices and subjective well-being.

Find out more and ensure your voice is heard by participating in the discussion (details below).

Salema Gulbahar
Wikiprogress Coordinator
Wikiprogress and partners invite you to participate in an online discussion from 22 – 30 April 

  • How can citizen engagement improve the development and use of well-being and progress statistics?
  • Do you have any examples of good practice in citizen engagement in well-being and progress statistics?
  • What role can technology – such as mobile apps or interactive web platforms – play in improving citizen engagement with well-being and progress statistics?

To leave a comment, click here and scroll to the section entitled “Contribute!”

Here is the short link to the page:
Follow the Twitter hashtag#CitizenEngagement and #StatsForAll

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