Data is a Team Sport: Advocacy Organisations

July 12, 2017 in Community, Data Blog, Event report

Data is a Team Sport is our open-research project exploring the data literacy eco-system and how it is evolving in the wake of post-fact, fake news and data-driven confusion.  We are producing a series of videos, blog posts and podcasts based on a series of online conversations we are having with data literacy practitioners.

To subscribe to the podcast series, cut and paste the following link into your podcast manager : or find us in the iTunes Store and Stitcher.

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

In this episode we discussed data driven advocacy organisations with:

  • Milena Marin is Senior Innovation Campaigner at Amnesty International. She is currently leads Amnesty Decoders – an innovative project aiming to engage digital volunteers in documenting human right violations using new technologies. Previously she worked as programme manager of School of Data. She also worked for over 4 years with Transparency International where she supported TI’s global network to use technology in the fight against corruption.
  • Sam Leon, is Data Lead at Global Witness, focusing on the use of data to fight corruption and how to turn this information into change making stories. He is currently working with a coalition of data scientists, academics and investigative journalists to build analytical models and tools that enable anti-corruption campaigners to understand and identify corporate networks used for nefarious and corrupt practices.

Notes from the Conversation

In order to get their organisations to see the value and benefit of using data, they both have had to demonstrate results and have looked for opportunities where they could show effective impact. Advocates are often quick to see data and new technologies as easy answers to their challenges, yet have difficulty in foreseeing the realities of implementing complex projects that utilise them.

Data provides advocates with ways to reveal the extent of a problem and  provide depth to qualitative and individual stories.  Milena credits the work of School of Data for the fact that journalists now expect Amnesty to back up their stories with data. However, the term ‘fake news’ is used to discredit their work and as a result they work harder at presenting verifiable data.

Data projects also can provide additional benefit to advocacy organisations by engaging stakeholders. Amnesty’s decoder project has involved 45,000 volunteers, and along with being able to extract data from a huge amount of video, it has also provided those volunteers with a deeper understanding of Amnesty’s work.  Global Witness is striving to make their data publicly accessible so it can provide benefit to their allies. Global Witness acknowledges that they are still are learning about ethical and privacy considerations before open data-sets can be a default. Both organisations are actively learning

They also touched on how important it is for their organisations to learn from others. They  look to external consultants and intermediaries to help fill organisational gaps in expertise in using data. They find it critical for organisations like Open Knowledge and School of Data to convene practitioners from different disciplines to share methodologies and lessons learned. During the conversation, they offered to share their own internal curriculums with each other.

More about their work



Resources and Readings

From FabRiders

View the Full Conversation:


Flattr this!