sábado, febrero 22 de 2020


Febrero 02, 2019

Digital and Analog data visualization in policy building workshops

Relying on the intersection of data science and arts provides new outlooks and improves information flows in the socialization of policies for equal opportunities and open dialogue.

Juan Pablo Marín Díaz

Juan Pablo Marín Díaz


The end product of policy discussions usually stay within the minds of those who attend the meetings. Rarely the knowledge generated through in this workshops or meetings extend to people not physically in the event. On the other side organizations working on multiple policy issues have a hard time getting their message out to the wider community to engage citizens in decision making processes.

Luckily with have now better tools at our disposal to tackle these issues. On the one side, data science allows us to collect, analyze and visualize multiple data sources in multiple formats, specially when we have unstructured data, the way it usually is in any policy discussion. On the other side using visualization help us spread the word to new audiences.

Therefore, relying on the intersection of data science and arts provides new outlooks and improves information flows in the socialization of policies for equal opportunities and open dialogue.

Using these techniques to inspire our participants in public discussions is very valuable. We at Datasketch conducted a first experiment together with the Ministry of Information Technology in Colombia during a workshop about corruption and transparency.


After an introduction of some context of different apps and data tools to tackle corruption, participants were asked to work in groups to list challenges and solutions in relation to some guiding questions about:

  • Information available for citizens to tackle corruption

  • Freedom of information in real life

  • Tackling corruption at municipal levels

The issues were placed on a board with the following axis:

  • Left: More technological

  • Right: More regulatory

  • Top: Easy to implement

  • Bottom: Difficult to implement

The result seen bellow was tabulated from which different learnings were extracted.

From the Challenge-Opportunities map different conclusions can be drawn:

  • Most of the challenges identified are skewed toward the regulation side of the chart. With sample conclusions involving:

    • Enforcing the transparency and data comptrollers to actually comply with their duties.

    • Make government official to comply with open data regulations.

    • Enforce the publication of beneficial ownership databases

    • Simplify processes to access information.

  • Most opportunities are easier to implement according to the participants in the workshop. These include:

    • Open by default

    • Open directories of public officials

    • Publication of judicial processes and legislation

  • It is worth mentioning that several issues that are high priority in the development of a sustainable open data practice in governments where not considered as relevant by the participants. For instance:

    • Data accountability on the publication of false or incomplete data from government institutions or officials.

    • Reproducibility of evidence from data using open source standards.

    • Beneficial ownership data in conjunction with other data sources like corruption.

Explore the full map with all comments in this interactive chart bellow.

When using data in workshops it is advisable to include active workshops. One way to do this is with the incorporation of analog data visualizations. Prior to the workshop, moderators can prepare data cards with relevant information for users to start a evidence based discussions with some guiding questions.

In the meantime, providing participants with different materials for them to re-create or adapt the data with physical visualizations is a great way for participants to interact and get closer to the data.


The good thing about this interactive workshops is that they connect offline learnings with online actions. The learnings from the workshops can be shared through multiple online channels to generate further discussions.



Juan Pablo Marín Díaz

Juan Pablo Marín Díaz


Juan Pablo es científico de datos. Ha trabajado en temas de estadística computacional aplicada en diversos campos como macroeconomía, hidrología y periodismo de datos.