Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Statistics • COVID-19 response

Open data

This section provides resources to support and encourage national statistical offices and other data producers to leverage and use open data in the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure all users have access to trusted data.

Humanitarian Data Exchange: Making data accessible for the COVID-19 pandemic

Access to open, interoperable and timely data about the COVID-19 pandemic is critical for understanding how the virus is spreading and the best strategies for responding in different contexts. To help, we have created a dedicated page on the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform so that our community can find COVID-19 related data from many sources and covering multiple countries.

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Launch of the UN COVID-19 Data Hub

National governments across the globe and the global development community are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with unprecedented measures. Though capacities in fighting the outbreak across nations vary significantly, all countries need to rely heavily on the availability of geographically disaggregated data in key thematic areas and for various groups of the population. As an immediate first step in addressing these data needs, the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has identified four thematic areas, namely: (1) virus tracking, (2) population, (3) health infrastructure and (4) economy. These data sets will help in mapping the spread of the disease, understanding trends, identifying vulnerable population groups, as well as measuring the economic impact of the pandemic. Ultimately, the aim is to provide access to trustworthy information and to help communicate clear messages so decision makers can address the outbreak effectively and efficiently.

Publish existing data following open data guidelines

Identifying existing datasets for priority dissemination is the first step to leveraging open data for action during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than focus on collecting new data, national statistical offices should locate existing useful data from traditional and non-traditional sources and publish them while adhering to open data standards to maximize access and usability. This section identifies resources to understand the state of open statistical data in a country, examples of data published by others that are critical to understanding COVID-19, and initiatives underway that use data to stop the pandemic.

Disseminate and incentivize data use

National statistical offices need to focus on disseminating open data in a way that facilitates and incentivizes data use to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. National statistical offices should provide data on health resources and monitoring efforts using well-designed websites or data portals that are easy to find and navigate, include data visualizations, and provide a variety of download formats. The resources below provide guidance on disseminating and incentivizing the use of data.

Encourage use of data and increase impact

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the demand for information from policymakers and citizens will be higher than ever, but connecting people to the data, encouraging use, and creating impact requires guidance and action by national statistical offices. Data providers and communicators bear the responsibility of connecting users to the information they need. National statistical offices must facilitate this connection. The resources in this section provide insight on how to encourage the use of data, monitor its uptake and impact, and further increase impact.