Data Platforms and Network Architectures

Vinck emphasized the value of letting data speak for themselves rather than having researchers create a narrative. By presenting data through a technology platform, users can interact with the data. Vinck pointed to the PeacebuildingData.org project in Liberia (Figure 4-1), in which an online data set presented using Google Maps allows users to create indicators that are of interest to them. Similarly, for a project in Mindanao, Philippines, users can click on a list of indicators to access and visualize the information they want.

So far, the information in the databases has come from a single source, but Vinck discussed the possibility of layering information from multiple sources onto a single map. Major questions that must be answered for such a system are whether information can be integrated and whether it is useful to do so. In part, he said, the answers depend on the purpose of the project. For example, a project focused on conflict analysis may differ from one focused on communication. Similarly, one project may lend itself to the development of a composite indicator that provides a peacebuilding score, while such an indicator might not be appropriate for a different project.

Ideally, the data presented through interactive platforms would be completely open to users. But data can be expensive and time consuming to collect, and letting go of data can be difficult. Data may also need to be protected

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FIGURE 4-1 Survey-Based Conflict Indicators for Liberia SOURCE: PeacebuildingData.org.



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