As part of our research project Data infrastructure for common challenges, we have been exploring how new data access initiatives develop the data infrastructure they need to tackle a specific challenge.

In particular, we looked at how data access initiatives are designed, and how organisations leading them go about understanding their wider environment.

Alongside desk and user research, we worked with early-stage data access initiatives to better understand how they go about mapping their data landscape. We discovered that this encompasses a broad range of activities, such as stakeholder and ecosystem mapping, user research and creating data inventories.

We observed that early on, people leading new data access initiatives often need help understanding what data infrastructure exists in their data ecosystem, and how to access it. They also need support in effectively engaging and utilising stakeholders from across the data ecosystem, especially those from different sectors.

Our user needs report provides more insights into how new data access initiatives approach data landscaping to understand their environment. It also provides an overview of which other tools are commonly used to build support, and to develop data inventories.

We hope this report will help others embarking on a similar journey to think about the tools they may need, both to understand their data ecosystem and to achieve impact.

We are keen to get feedback on this report, especially from organisations leading or working on a data access initiative not featured in our earlier user research; and are particularly keen to hear more from organisations from the Global South. Please get in touch.

We will continue our research and develop prototypes to help address the needs that we have identified. We will share updates on our project page.