On the wonderful world of TReNDS in 2018: A recap

December 19, 2018

Written by Jay Neuner

A year in the development space – where horizons span five years or 50 – can seem like the blink of an eye. But a lot can happen in a year, as we experienced at TReNDS in 2018.

It was a year of shoring up our foundations, launching a brand new website and inviting new members into the fold of our expert group.

Attendees at the 2018 Data Day, held in New York City in September 2018. Click through for a recap. Source: Jay Neuner for TReNDS

Attendees at the 2018 Data Day, held in New York City in September 2018. Click through for a recap. Source: Jay Neuner for TReNDS

We also spread our wings with new initiatives like our Local Data Action microgrants. This program supported five subnational regions located around the world–from Small Island Developing States like Aruba to cities pushing the data for development envelope like Bogotá–in operationalizing local data to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Looking ahead to 2019, we’ll share the reports of these five grantees, detailing their progress and their reflections on the process – including real, practical lessons, and guidance that can be used by local data implementers worldwide. We were fortunate to host a few of our grantees in person and virtually, alongside others in the data for development community, for our annual Data Day, themed this year around bridging local-national monitoring gaps.

TReNDS staff at the UN World Data Forum, held in Dubai in October 2018. Click through to read more about the event.

TReNDS staff at the UN World Data Forum, held in Dubai in October 2018. Click through to read more about the event.

Also traveling the globe: our Secretariat staff, who landed in Bristol for the Data for Development Festival and our first biannual meeting of 2018, Geneva for the Group on Earth Observations’ Programme Board Meeting, and Dubai for the UN World Data Forum and our second biannual meeting of 2018.

We left terra firma to profile how satellite imagery can be used to predict disease, among other applications, as one of 10 case studies on the return on investment from data systems in partnership with the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD). Keep these briefs in your back pocket when you need to argue the case for the global data community’s advocacy and fundraising for investments in data and statistical systems. And don’t forget to check out the just-published synthesis report, including recommendations supporting data intervention investments.

Click through to learn more about POPGRID.

Click through to learn more about POPGRID.

Continuing that 3 million-foot view: our new role as the technical lead on POPGRID, a data collaborative led by TReNDS, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University, and GPSDD. This collaborative effort aims to systematize new approaches to population, infrastructure, and settlement observations using satellite imagery, mobile networks, and other technologies.  

In other news, our Data Reconciliation project–in partnership with Colombia’s statistical office DANE and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce–has been a great success, with the two entities now actively sharing data on key SDG indicators. The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce has now invested much of its own time and resources to drive this project forward, including supporting the expansion of the project across the Latin American region. In the next phase of this work, our friends at Cepei will work with two key partners – the Chamber and Data República – to build out a peer resource platform expressly for regional Latin American Chambers of Commerce to develop their SDG data and data sharing strategies, featuring the worked example of Bogotá’s Chamber of Commerce.

Looking ahead to 2019, we’re excited to kick off a partnership with the World Economic Forum, University of Washington, and others to better understanding the legal and institutional conditions for data collaboration, as well as a new initiative with GPSDD and others on real-time monitoring of the SDGs. Stay tuned at sdsntrends.org.

Thank you to our friends, funders, and community for this past year of progress and partnership – here’s to another to come!

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