Tearing down the wall to Myanmar’s information ecosystem

Abstract

This report highlights the experiences of one of Myanmar’s leading research organizations in compiling, analyzing, and publishing political data for local audiences on an online information platform (called MyPILAR). The development of this digital information platform from January to June of 2016 fostered better collaboration and provided first-hand experience in learning how to work with and manage databases; however, it also alluded to the limitations that organizations face amidst Myanmar’s current data culture. In subsequently conducting a needs assessment among other government and civil society organizations that collect and use data for decision marking to learn how they collaborate, identify distribution and utilization paths, and process data, the Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF) discovered that these institutions have faced similar experiences in navigating a muddled and complex information environment and data culture. EMReF, one of two local organizations collaborating with the University of Washington, the Tableau Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve data literacy and data strategies for evidence-based decision making in Myanmar, identified and addressed data management, production, curation, analysis, and sharing practices while launching the MyPILAR information platform and conducting an assessment among prospective members for a cohort to collectively address gaps in the emerging environment and improve good data practices across individuals and organizations partaking in Myanmar’s data ecosystem. Members included government ministries, civil society organizations, and the media. EMReF selected those interviewed by their important role in collecting, sharing, or using data for public purposes or by their willingness to participate. Through EMReF’s experience, this report documents two important and interconnected situations: 1) it sheds light on the array of data culture practices and situations contributing to Myanmar’s data environment, and 2) it provides details on how one organization, in working within this environment, learned to identify these practices and overcome obstacles in producing high quality and accessible data for the public.

Recommended Citation

McAuliffe, E. & Rothschild, C. (2017). Tearing down the wall to Myanmar’s information ecosystem: The case of one local organization in producing and providing credible information. Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA): Seattle.

Keywords

Myanmar, Burma, information ecosystem, data literacy, data collection, data for democracy