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Citizen-generated data in the information ecosystem and sustainable development

Development Initiatives

“Citizen-generated data is being viewed as a means for local communities to hold duty-bearers to account. But little evidence exists to demonstrate how it has influenced transparency and accountability, resource allocation and service delivery.” — Development Initiatives


initiatives worldwide producing citizen-generated data

Start date
January 2016
End date
March 2017
Period: 15 months


Citizen-generated data is information produced by citizens to monitor, demand and drive change on issues that affect them. But how does citizen-generated data on budgets, resource allocation and taxation actually get used by decision-makers in government? And how much does it contribute to creating an effective ‘ecosystem’ of complementary efforts?


This research asks how citizen-generated data can lead to increased government responsiveness and accountability for resource allocation and service delivery.

It is studying two examples of citizen-generated data:

  • a formal mechanism for channelling citizen-generated data that government has asked for, and provided a structure to deliver
  • an informal mechanism for channelling unsolicited citizen feedback to government.

For each of these examples, researchers will examine the demand for data, the capacities of those generating the data to engage and influence government actors, the channel for transmitting data and receiving feedback, and the aggregation and structure of the data.

Understanding the impact and potential of citizen-generated data will help ensure that citizens are understood as critical contributors of data, and bring citizen voices into conversations about the data revolution. It will also mean better planning of successful citizen-generated data initiatives which can empower citizens to gain greater accountability from governments.


Development Initiatives works on improving access to and use of information in Kenya and Uganda. It aims to enhance the effectiveness of the information ‘ecosystem’ to deliver sustainable development, focusing its work on data access and use.


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