Advancing sustainability together? New report and guide on citizen-generated data launched


Hello everyone,

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new report ‘Advancing Sustainability Together? Citizen-generated data and the Sustainable Development Goals’.

Our report, as well as our accompanying guide shall help start conversations around the different approaches of doing and organising CGD. If you would like to engage with CGD, we encourage you to read through our report and guide, or add your questions as suggest edits in our living document version of our guide.

Our report identifies several benefits CGD can bring for implementing and monitoring the SDGs, underlining the importance for public institutions to further support these initiatives.

  • Dealing with data is usually much more than ‘just producing’ data. CGD initiatives open up new types of relationships between individuals, civil society and public institutions.
  • Generating data takes many shapes, from collecting new data in the field, to compiling, annotating, and structuring existing data to enable new ways of seeing things through data. Accessing and working with existing (government) data is often an important enabling condition for CGD initiatives to start in the first place.
  • Beyond filling data gaps, official measurements can be expanded, complemented, or cross-verified by CGD. CGD can also help improve governments data collection efforts, or be used comparative data to test the accuracy of government data.
  • CGD can inform several actions to achieve the SDGs. Beyond education, community engagement and community-based problem solving, this includes baseline research, planning and strategy development, allocation and coordination of public and private programs, as well as the improvement of public services.
  • CGD must be ‘good enough’ for different (and varying) purposes. Governments already develop pragmatic ways to negotiate and assess the usefulness of data for a specific task. CGD may be particularly useful when agencies have a clear remit or responsibility to manage a problem.

Note on method:
As our work wishes to be illustrative rather than comprehensive, we started with a list of over 230 projects that were associated with the term “citizen-generated data” on Google Search, using an approach known as “search as research” (Rogers, 2013). Outgoing from this list, we developed case studies on a range of prominent CGD examples.

If you are interested to inform yourself about some of the CGD initiatives out there, we have prepared a list of organisations, programs, and projects working on CGD. This list is open for everyone to contribute further examples of CGD. We have also prepared our raw dataset of “citizen generated data” according to Google searches accessible on figshare.