Digital data offers manifold opportunities to development by enabling development actors to strengthen decision-making processes, improve service delivery, elicit meaningful citizen participation, and increase responsiveness in humanitarian services. At the same time, it generates new forms of exclusion, new methods of surveillance and threatens individual privacy.

Promising that digital data will solve development challenges is an overstatement. Data is just one of the ingredients that can help solve a given problem. There are people, partners, communities, gatekeepers and leaders that make up the whole enabling mechanism for digital data to work best in development.

This is why the recommendations identified in this paper emphasize the role of stakeholders along the development value chain — building individual and organizational capacities, protecting personal privacy, building collaborations across sectors, and empowering the powerless. This is in recognition that data is useless in development without people, that technology is inutile without civic engagement, and that efforts that engage technology with no regard to communities and their culture will gain no ground.