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Mapping it out: four facilitation tools to help structure thinking about data projects

George Hodge
May 30, 2016

Global Pulse partners with governments, UN agencies, non-profit organizations and the private sector on big data innovation projects, which often lead to the building of decision-support systems like the Haze Gazer or the Zimbabwe Biodiversity tool.

Some of the organizations we partner with have a clear idea of how to incorporate big data and analytics into their work. But other partners require support in understanding what types of data they can use, how it should be deployed and to what extent it can advance their objectives.

To this end, the Global Pulse Lab in Jakarta has developed a first version of a series of data asset mapping facilitation tools that will be iterated and adapted into a lengthier manual for project managers in the coming months.

How do the facilitation tools help?

Inspired by Giulio Quaggiotto, Gaia Marcus, DIY Toolkit and CRESC, the facilitation tools help explore questions and clarify aims with partners, such as:

  • What is the central challenge you are trying to address and what data do you have on the issue?

  • What internal data gaps exist across short to long term planning cycles and what other sources might you want to have access to?

  • What do your service touchpoints feel like from the user’s perspective and what data is captured along the way?

  • What data is available outside of your organisation and how could you access it to inform decision-making?

  • Who currently benefits from the datasets and how could you involve your stakeholders in interpreting the data?

What are the tools?

The "Problem Definition Tool" is an easy to populate aid which helps identify the key issues that need to be addressed, who are the stakeholders and to what sources of data a partner already has access.

The "Data Gaps Tool" helps pinpoint the types of data partners are working with, what internal data gaps exist across short to long term planning cycles and what other data is needed from external sources.

The "User Journey" and "Data Ecosystem" tools require anything from a couple of days to a week of research to populate. They help identify the types of data available from other organisations, including private sector entities, and how that data can be accessed, as well as how the data fits into the bigger picture within the central challenge being addressed.

Mix and match

Global Pulse researchers and data scientists work with partner organisations to populate the facilitation tools during initial discussions in order to shape expectations and to structure ideas. This first step allows us to understand the specific needs of partners and to give initial feedback based on the lessons learned from previous data innovation projects conducted by Global Pulse.

Each of the four facilitation tools is targeted at specific needs and depending on the knowledge of each partner, one or more of the tools can be of use. 

The tools form part of a comprehensive guide for project managers on the design of data innovation projects that is currently under development and will be released in the coming months.

 

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