Swivelling numbers around

The OECD is a world leader in statistics, but keeping up that lead demands innovation. The statistics services of the OECD already provide smart databases online at www.oecd.org/statistics, while graphs and tables in many of our publications are backed up with our new StatLink service, a link allowing access to source Excel files at a click. Now the OECD has gone another step by opening its data out to websites that specialise in lively use and presentation of the statistics, and reader interaction.
Such sites include the likes of IBM’s Many Eyes and Swivel, a privately held, US-based company. These sites publish highimpact graphs on topical debates, and allow users to rate or comment on the data from different angles. Swivel, for instance, uses graphs from ready-made sources, such as OECD in Figures, the OECD Factbook or the OECD Observer, as well as using raw databases to build graphs of their own. Other users submit their interpretations of the data or create their own versions.Good policymaking needs good data, and these systems can not only tranform dry-looking material for wider audiences, but drive home key policy messages to governments too. With this in mind, the OECD Development Centre has struck a new partnership with Swivel to drive discussion on gender discrimination. By putting the Development Centre’s innovative Gender, Institutions and Development Data Base (GID-DB) on Swivel.com, both partners hope they can encourage fact-driven conversations among Swivel community readers and beyond on this sensitive issue. The data looks at issues like ownership rights, whether property or accessing a bank loan; physical integrity; prevalence of early marriage and obligation to wear certain garments.“By making this gender-focused data available to a wider audience via Swivel.com, we are hoping to encourage further communication across borders and facilitate decisions that better the lives of the people, particularly women, in these societies,” said Denis Drechsler, policy analyst at the OECD Development Centre. For Swivel co-founder Brian Mulloy, enhancing content for his community “will hopefully encourage better decisionmaking by those who can affect change.”For more on the OECD and Swivel, contact Jerome.Cukier@oecd.org/, and for gender, Denis.Drechsler@oecd.org/. See also www.swivel.com ©OECD Observer No. 263, October 2007


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