Shaping policy with data

At a glance

Whether it’s social media usage, job search on job platforms or mobile navigation, the mass and quality of data collected worldwide has developed rapidly in recent years. This has made it possible to make ever better predictions about human behavior, social, economic or ecological developments and future trends. These can also be used to tailor policies to people: With the help of this information, government services can be improved, human rights strengthened, the environment protected or the livelihood of future generations secured. For example, if a government wants to integrate people working in the informal sector into the social welfare system, it needs data to know who these people are. However, policy makers often do not have this data or lack the skills to use complex data in a useful way.

High-quality data and information provide the foundation. They are the tools to make evidence-informed decisions in the interest of the people. As digitization continues, more and more data is being collected and shared. Smartphones, satellite images and social networks provide information about the activities, movement patterns and opinions of the people whose livelihoods are to be improved.

However, policy makers have limited access to these data sources. Data gaps, limited licenses and access, scarce resources, and spotty data skills make data-driven decision making difficult. Marginalized groups may be neglected as a result, social inequalities may be exacerbated, and long-term sustainable projects may not even emerge. To address these challenges, Data4Policy supports policy makers in concrete use cases. Through cooperation with private and civil society, data and information gaps are closed, data skills are taught, and successful methods are scaled across sectors.

Our approach

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) initiated the policy initiative “Data4Policy” in December 2021. It addresses the urgent need for data-driven policymaking, which has been intensified by the Covid 19 crisis. In close cooperation with the BMZ Digital Transformation Centers, Data4Policy implements various measures in three fields of action:

Our goal

In a people-centric digital transformation, data should be used to promote human rights and sustainable development. Data4Policy therefore develops scalable practical solutions that add the most value to policy making. Collaborations between the public and private sectors will open up new data sources, build data competencies, and enable exchanges between relevant actors*. This exchange ensures that all stakeholders are made aware of the many benefits as well as the risks and limitations of using data.