EmpoderaData: empowerment through data in Latin America

Jackie Carter, Julie Ricard, Natalie Grover, Valentina Casasbuenas, Vanessa Higgins Blog, News

On May 16-17 in São Paulo, Data-Pop Alliance, University of Manchester, and FGV EAESP jointly organized a workshop on Data Literacy and SDGs in Latin America. The workshop followed an open seminar on “Big Data for Social Good” which gathered over 80 participants from different sectors and discussed ongoing initiatives leveraging ‘big data’ for research and public policy in Brazil and Latin America at large.

The discussion about data literacy in particular could not have been more timely. Over 20 participants from Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico eagerly joined our 1.5 day working session to discuss and contribute to our collaborative project: EmpoderaData. This workshop was supported through University of Manchester’s Global Challenges Research Funding (Research Partners) scheme, which seeks to establish international research networks to work jointly on global challenges.

The University of Manchester is proud to be joint first in the world (with the University of Auckland, NZ) and first in Europe for its research impact as measured by the Sustainable Development Goals. In this context, the opportunity to extend our data literacy work to Latin America is well supported and highly relevant in the framework of the global work to achieve the SDGs. Advancing this project will take place in two principle areas of exploration: (1) What are the unmet needs of the project’s three pilot countries in terms of data literacy skills? (2) To what extent might a data literacy capacity building model – developed and tested in the UK through the Q-step data fellow program – be helpful to develop these skills in our three pilot countries?

Through the workshop several unmet needs were identified through discussions with participants, which are being further explored through interviews with key in-country people. These conversations also highlighted the appetite to explore a data fellows model in our three countries.

A summary of the results of the workshop will be published in due course, and be presented back to participants. Response to this workshop has been very positive and work has begun to plan an EmpoderaData event in Manchester in October. In Manchester we will present the research and project proposal for the next phase. Prior to this, the team is focused on a selection process for one or several SDGs of focus, and on securing additional funding for the event and further research.

Overall, the event was an enormous success: we have established a community of practice with those who attended and have begun to network with those who were unable to attend in person. While our ambitions are large, we are highly motivated by the research agenda the project has set and the potential impact it would create in the pilot countries of Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

Learn more about this project here.

Read an article about our event, published in Folha de São Paulo on 15 may, here.