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Making sense of data and progress on a global stage

By Kate Krukiel on July 15, 2015

Filed under Microsoft in Government

On its own, data is not a panacea for real-world problems. In fact, in its raw form, it can distract and overwhelm decision makers. But, when aggregated and analyzed, data is an essential part of measuring success, identifying opportunities for progress, and setting priorities for the future.

In 2000, the United Nations outlined a set of ambitious goals called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which laid out plans to work toward eradicating poverty and reducing infant mortality around the world. Member states and nongovernmental organizations set immediately to work, but they found it difficult to measure or demonstrate the progress they were making.

In 2014, as a part of the UN General Assembly’s Data Revolution Group, Microsoft launched an initiative to map official UN data, creating visualizations of 15 years’ worth of progress on the MDGs. Using Power View, we could easily share results with UN member states in an accessible and digestible format, like the graphics below, which reflect the change in child mortality and measles vaccinations over time by region.

Used in this way, data can help tell the story of progress—what’s being done to eradicate poverty and who is benefiting, for example—and to inspire continued global efforts. In 2015, policy makers and world leaders will create a new set of goals to continue progress: these are the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In order for these goals to be measureable and achievable, Microsoft is working with the UN to answer three questions:

Do we have the data we need to measure the status quo and progress made?
If not, how do we get it?
How do we best make use of the data?
As people around the world help to write and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals—and as we participate in the 2015 Conference on Climate Change COP21—Microsoft will continue its work of turning raw data into actionable insight toward the goal of helping to make the world a better place.

Read more about what Microsoft is doing in partnership with the UN and the international community. in response to climate change.

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