Monthly Archives: October 2017

Humans of Data 23

“I’m excited that people are now starting to think about data sharing. For the last few years it’s been me, as the institutional data manager, going to people and saying, ‘You should make your data available!’  Now people are getting in touch and saying they want to do it, because they’re recognising they can get more stuff published that they can get recognition for.

It’s also good that we’re getting more than just the raw or aggregated data – we’re also getting the survey tools, the Stata code and the files for the processing scripts for how the data is analysed.  It’s exploding out into all the different stages of research.  If you’re thinking about reproducibility of research, you still only see tiny snapshots of that.  I’d like to do more about that: my frustration is that we don’t have software to document all stages of the research process.

A lot of those research outputs are useful but also ephemeral.  If you wanted to reapply a questionnaire, you’d have to do an update of it 2 or 3 years down the line.  Research approaches change, the language changes and so on.  But you could actually go back and do a comparison about how interviewing has changed over a specific time period – as long as we start managing those research outputs too, alongside the data and publications.”

Humans of Data 22

“In my previous life as an academic, I always liked interdisciplinary work: to come at things from a slightly sideways perspective. But in this area, I get to encounter more than most people do – collections, ideas, researchers, people, stories … I get to discover everything from every different area of knowledge, from lots of different perspectives.  The data itself is obviously really interesting but it’s what goes into the creation of that data, and what people then do with that data – that’s what’s really fascinating to me.

When people ask me, ‘What do you do?’, I’m still not sure how best to describe it.  Whenever someone asks, I give a different answer, but it doesn’t actually capture what the day-to-day work is about, which is the exchange of social and cultural knowledge.  I think that’s the most appealing thing to me.  There’s always something new to find out about, and this central thing that we call ‘data’ is a conduit into discovery of all kinds of stories and narratives.  It’s a window into lots of different worlds.”

Humans of Data 21

I’m not a data scientist but I know how to read and fiddle with code. This is what drives me – I want to understand and know something practically, not just by reading about it but by getting first-hand experience in collecting data, doing things with it, manipulation. I enjoy this and find it valuable. I do theory about data practice, so I’m interested in asking what data does to knowledge practices, but I’m looking at it as a philosopher rather than anything else. I’m interested in how data can be used to tell stories, but want to take this one step further. How do we use data to make arguments? I’m interested in how we can move to a critical way of looking at argumentation – how we can use data as evidence, to convince, to tell stories. I’m asking what is ‘good enough’ knowledge, what is ‘responsible’ knowledge, what is ‘valuable’ knowledge? What are the ethical considerations about data when we use it to make decisions?

Humans of Data 20

“Still, I’m inspired by the fact that the field is cross-disciplinary.  To be able to talk about digital preservation in a holistic way you need data producers and data consumers including people from information sciences, library scientists and researchers.  With every domain we need to understand a whole new idea of how data is produced and consumed and the use cases for the value of data.  It never gets boring.  There will always be work.  And if I have a question about a file format or metadata problem I can ask colleagues in New Zealand or the States or Scotland or the Netherlands and they know what I’m talking about.  I love that.  To me it’s like a cool kids’ domain!”

Summary of Linked Open Data for Global Disaster Risk Research activity involving Dr Bapon Fakhruddin and Professor Virginia Murray

Dr Bapon Fakhruddin

The fourth Pacific Meteorological Council and second Pacific Meteorological Ministers Meeting (PMMM) was held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, 14-17 August, 2017.

Dr Bapon Fakhruddin’s presentation on end-to-end impact based multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster loss data collection for risk assessment, beginning with community ownership and engagement, was exceptionally well received.  More

Disaster Risk and Resilience Roundtable, 19 June 2017, Wellington, New Zealand

Professor Virginia Murray

The Global Platform disaster loss data working session reinvigorated a high level roundtable followed a seminar on Global experiences on managing disaster risk – rethinking NZ’s policy approach by Elizabeth Longworth (ex UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction . The roundtable emphasized to strengthen risk governance system of New Zealand. There is a very strong business case to be made for investing in disaster risk reduction. It has been estimated that an annual global investment of USD 6 billion in disaster risk management strategies would generate USD 360 billion worth of benefits in terms of reducing risk. On that basis, New Zealand might expect a return on investment of 60 times for every dollar spent on reducing disaster risk. In terms of creating shared value, investment in disaster risk management has co-benefits of strengthening resilience, competitiveness and sustainability.

The estimates for direct losses are considered to be perhaps 50% under-reported due to the pervasive nature of smaller scale, localised and recurring disasters. It is concerning that, internationally, the mortality and economic losses from extensive disaster risk are trending upwards. For New Zealand and its Pacific Island neighbours, climate change will magnify disaster risk and increase the costs. With the New Zealand economy heavily reliant on the agricultural sector, it is particularly exposed to weather-related events.

In the same way that New Zealand’s approach to social investment requires improved data and analysis, so too does the production of NZ-based risk information and integrated databases. Greater sensitivity as to the causes and consequences of disaster risk could strengthen accountabilities as to disaster impacts.

A modern-day approach to risk governance also requires greater inclusiveness and transparency. New Zealand needs to pursue an ‘NZ-Inc’ approach. The nature of disaster risk necessitates a whole-of-government response. Dr Bapon Fakhruddin attended the roundtable as an expert.

Workshop on developing a disaster loss database for New Zealand, 28 September 2017

MCDEM will be holding an initial all day workshop on 28 September to discuss all elements of the Loss Database Project. 5th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) was held in Mexico between 22-26 May 2017. The Platform was hosted by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Mexican government to support the continual progress assessments of the Sendai Framework (SFDRR) implementation. The New Zealand delegation was led by Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Management (Philip Gibson, MFAT) accompanied by officials from MFAT (1) and MCDEM (3), plus a wider NZ Inc. delegation of 20 which comprised representation from academia, NGOs, local government and private sector providers.

Following the Platform, a number of key pieces of work are in progress, or need to be considered to give effect to the Framework, put priorities into action and report on the Global Indicators. Of note, these are:

  • Finalising the National Disaster Resilience Strategy
  • Developing the concept for a National Platform for DRR
  • Developing a National Disaster Loss Database and routine disaster loss reporting
  • Project to develop better methods of pricing risk and forecasting losses

The first project MCDEM wish to seek your engagement on is the Loss Database. This is something given consideration to in the past, but is now critical due to its significance to future Sendai reporting. Unlike previous reporting on the Hyogo Framework for Action that focussed on qualitative data on inputs and outputs, Sendai reporting is focussed on outcomes, i.e. losses from disasters, and whether seeing a downwards trend.

ISCRAM Asia Pacific 2018 Conference, Wellington, New Zealand

Dr Bapon Fakhruddin and Professor Virginia Murray will be chair a session on disaster data Issues for situational awareness in the ISCRAM Asia Pacific Conference in late 2018 (