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Harnessing Data Reuse for Addressing Global Challenges: Insights from The Data Tank’s Headlines Activity

By Paulina Behluli, Laura Sandor and Moiz Shaikh

In a world grappling with complex challenges, the utilization of data can become an important aspect of understanding and solving serious issues. During Berlin Science Week and our “Data and Pizza: Feeding Minds and Solving World Issues, One Slice at a Time” event, The Data Tank team and the Hertie School Data Science Lab team conducted a “headlines” group activity (participants divided into two groups, switching topics for discussion), inviting participants into structured discussions surrounding recent news articles covering diverse topics from work habits and health in Spain to drought and food security in Bolivia. This interactive exercise generated conversations about the significance of data, data re-use, and Data Stewardship in addressing contemporary global challenges.

Elements discussed by participants during the headlines’ activity included:

• Traditional vs non-traditional data sources and points, • Data re-use might be biased toward supporting specific socio-political agendas,
• In addition to using data to present results of a pilot program – data is crucial to identifying policy
• The need for a holistic multi-stakeholder approach across different entities for data sharing is rapidly growing,
• When discussing specific topics, i.e. health, productivity, or workers) clearly defining the scope of the topics is fundamental.

Group 1: Severe drought parches Bolivia: ‘my biggest fear is running out of water’:
Group 1 outlined a four-step approach to address the drought crisis in Bolivia, emphasizing problem identification, data types, stakeholder involvement, and strategies for collaboration. Trust emerged as a cornerstone, essential for successful data sharing. The group stressed the involvement of the private sector in data processes to enhance transparency and trust.
Group 1: Four-Day Work Week Boosts Spanish Workers’ Health, Pilot Program Shows:
Group 1 then focused on the potential of traditional and non-traditional data sources for a pilot program investigating the impact of a four-day work week on Spanish workers’ health. Insights included integrating data from various sources for deeper analysis and making sense of unstructured data using the DIKW pyramid. The importance of engaging the public and establishing data stewardship roles for effective use of privately owned data was highlighted.

Group 2: Severe drought parches Bolivia: ‘my biggest fear is running out of water’:
Group 2 explored the extensive types of data surrounding the severe drought in Bolivia. Discussions emphasized the need to ‘think out of the box’ regarding data sources, including historical, agricultural, weather, prevention, and population/health data. Identifying key actors, such as government, NGOs, local organizations, journalists, scientists, and citizens, was crucial for fostering better communication and data collaboration. Participants addressed barriers like data quality, literacy, highlighting the importance of building trust for effective data sharing.
Group 2: Four-Day Work Week Boosts Spanish Workers’ Health, Pilot Program Shows:
Group 2 then showed how the headline activity showcased the power of discussions anchored around article headlines. Participants explored the multifaceted role of data beyond presenting program results, emphasizing its crucial role in identifying policy challenges. A call for a holistic, multi-stakeholder approach to governing data emerged, recognizing the growing need for collaboration across diverse entities. Furthermore, the discussion emphasized the importance of clearly defining the scope when addressing specific topics like health, productivity, or workers.

The headlines activity conducted by The Data Tank exemplifies the tangible application of data re-use principles in addressing real-world challenges. The insights gained from the discussions underscore the importance of collaborative, multi-stakeholder approaches, clear definition of topic scopes, and the imperative role of trust in effective data sharing. As we navigate an era of unprecedented global challenges, harnessing the power of data and fostering a culture of responsible Data Stewardship remains a viable solution for creating sustainable solutions.

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