With the start of public testing of the new IATI Validator, we like to briefly look back at how we got here, and our vision for the future.
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) was a key ingredient that brought us together to start Data4Development. We already had experience in helping organisations get on their way publishing IATI data about their work and results, and to use it to coordinate, plan and monitor their efforts.
In our workshops with publishers, we wanted to give concise feedback on the quality of their data. That led to the birth of our data quality feedback platform: an automated, human-readable report to flag common issues we found in IATI files.
It proved to be a huge help in finding "low hanging fruit" to improve the data an organisation publishes, and became an important in-house tool for our IATI services.
The "colourful boxes" became an important self-service tool for several more publishers to look for "quick fixes" and systemic errors in their data. And the reports became available as machine-readable files, used in the data preparation phase of the METIS dashboard of the Dutch Ministry.
Now we are in the next phase. Since Spring we have been working together with the IATI Technical Team at Development Initiatives, to turn the data quality feedback platform into the next IATI Validator. It is now open for public testing.
In our view, this is an important step for IATI. We now have a working platform to translate IATI reference and guidance documentation into business rules, and test data against those rules. The Validator also provides links to additional documentation: reference pages in the IATI Standard, and additional guidance documents and pages.
The IATI Validator includes the "rulesets" defined earlier in IATI. This will surely lead to new debates about those rules, and about the interpretation of the IATI Standard and IATI data.
We look forward to those debates! It will help the whole IATI community work together on improvements in the Standard, and on alignment with guidelines for specific uses (donor guidelines, humanitarian aid, SDGs).
The debates will no doubt be heated, so let's remind ourselves of the primary objective: to help publishers improve their data so that it becomes easier to use and more useful.
IATI has already proven itself in several situations. It is often the catalyst or even the driver to better alignment of IT systems within organisations. It leads to agreements on how to share data between organisations. We have seen this in our own work with dozens of publishers over the years. The EU Aid Explorer and US Development Landscape are great examples of using IATI data too.
We are confident the new IATI Validator can help many publishers to improve their IATI data quality.
Our ambition is to continue working on the platform. To integrate it with IATI publishing tools. To offer more insights and additional guidance. To use it as an in-house tool to check against your own business rules and publishing policy. And more.