AidData releases new data portal

  • Explaining it all
    Explaining it all
    Christian Peratsakis '09, technical associate at Development Gateway, discusses how to use dashboards on AidData 3.0. He was one of the main developers of the website.
    Courtesy of Galina Kalvatcheva
AidData, a research and innovation lab based at the College of William & Mary, released the third version of its data portal, aiddata.org, as a part of Global Transparency Week on Oct. 29. This newest data portal expands the capacities of the site by providing more information than the previous version in an easy to use interface.

Held in Washington D.C., the launch event featured demonstrations on how to use the website from AidData staff and presentations from AidData partners at US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Development Gateway. About 200 people from think tanks, U.S. government agencies and international development organizations were in attendance.David Trichler

“It’s rewarding because we have always seen the value of this, but to have such a large group of people from D.C. who are actually using the information to make decisions respond so positively shows that it’s not just us who value it,” AidData Director of Operations David Trichler said.

The site now features an expanded set of development finance flows, including information on foreign direct investment and remittances. The website features dashboards to view the information easily, and it includes a new Geographic Information System (GIS) map function to create, save and share maps from the web platform.

“A perennial challenge for policymakers, practitioners and civil society groups is joining up large, disparate datasets in order to identify patterns and trends,” AidData Co-Executive Director Brad Parks said. “AidData 3.0 makes it easier for users to collate, visualize and analyze the aid and development datasets that are most relevant to them.”Brad Parks

Last November, AidData received a grant from USAID to further its work tracking foreign aid at the subnational level in 15 countries. This work, powered by undergraduate research assistants who find and enter the data, will be available on the site as it is collected. The website, funded by USAID, provides the tools to find and visualize the information being collected.

“For a long time, we have prioritized transparency at USAID, and this is just a great tool for us to use internally and for us to encourage our partners and implementers to start using in order to both visualize and analyze information,” USAID Public Affairs Adviser Kate Gage said. “This is a tool for both the public and the development community.”

The website is now available at aiddata.org in beta version. In the coming months, national budgets and private foundation flow information will be added.

In January, a feedback feature for users will go live, allowing them to comment on projects, upload documents, videos and photos in order to challenge the accuracy of the data available.

“The new dashboards, data visualizations and maps bring to life data previously contained in rows and columns,” said Nancy Choi, AidData co-executive director. “It’s a data sandbox with user-friendly tools for both techies and non-techies to explore the policy and research questions of greatest interest to them.”