As we start to move beyond a prototyping phase around data from the International Aid Transparency Initiative, and into a phase where donors publishing data, and third-parties working with that data, are identifying the need for solid products to turn the data into accessible information, we can start identifying a range of distinct use-cases for IATI data. Following on from a recent conference call involving BOND, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, AidInfo and DFID, John Adams compiled a list of three key use cases for IATI data, highlighting the different sorts of open source tools each use-case might require.
Use Case Family 1: Display of data from individual activity files
The aim of this set of use cases is to be able to display information from individual activity files, generated by a single organisation. This could apply organisations wanting to view their own IATI data, or someone wanting to view data from a single activity file from another organisation.
A variant would be to provide a capability for organisations to enter their project information on a website that would then generate IATI data and a user-friendly view (for example the Open Aid Register).
Preview tools to help users take a structured look inside a particular file are in the works, but there is likely to be demand for visually appealing interfaces that help donors embed their own IATI data back into their websites – taking advantage of accessible map, graph and listing interfaces.
Use Case Family 2: Display of data from aggregated views
This set of use cases would describe the capability for a user to get a view of data from one or more donors, for a particular subset of information (for example, all the data for a particular country or sector). It would therefore require the following:
- Aggregator: a continually refreshed (up-to-date) data store, pulling in IATI data from a range of different donors (from URLs in the IATI Registry).
- Query tools: the ability to query the data and extract subsets of the data using a range of parameters
- Export tools: to get the selected subset in IATI format for reuse
- Display tools: to show the data in a human-readable format (Use Case Family 1)
A variant would be the capability to take a parent activity to seed the production of child activities. For example, a large donor provides a single payment to an NGO, the NGO uses this to fund several projects in different countries. The NGO has the capability to convert the single large donor payment into a subset of linked projects.
A number of open source aggregator platforms are currently in development, building on the IATI Explorer Toolkit.
Use Case 3: Widgets and apps to meet specific requirements
Use Case Families 1 and 2 cover the basic display of different IATI datasets. There is likely to be a need for more specialised tools that would make use of IATI data from either the original source (single activity file) or from an aggregated source to build specific functions. Examples include:
- Beneficiary feedback systems - adding end user comments to the data (expanding)
- Document extraction and analysis – for example generating a word cloud for risk assesmments in published documents.
These tools use a flow of accessible and detailed IATI data as an input, but would not be exclusively about displaying IATI data.
Other use cases:
What other use-cases can you identify? Can you point to tools that would support these use cases to be realised already?