Pilot Irish Data Website

On Friday, the Ireland Stat pilot website went live at http://www.irelandstat.gov.ie
According to the DPER the objective of Ireland Stat is “to provide a whole-of-Government performance measurement system. At its simplest the website brings together data from a whole variety of different sources and sets them in the context of Department’s goals to show what Ireland has achieved, what it did in order to deliver on those goals, what it cost and how Ireland compares internationally.”
It is still very much at the beta stage and many of the categories are empty, nonetheless it looks as if it has the potential to be an interesting site, although much detail would have to be added.

There is a consultation process where suggestions may be used for future developments and improvements on the website.

5 thoughts on “Pilot Irish Data Website

  1. Thanks, Jane, for letting us know of this.

    The website has seven tabs, on which one can seek further information Economy, Health, Education, Public Safety, Transport, Environment, Government.

    When clicked, two of these give the following message
    “This is a pilot website in trial mode – no data is shown for this policy area at the moment.”

    What is one to make of the fact that these two tab are those for
    Public Safety and Government.

    After 18 months in Government, one would expect some statement on each of these, given some government promises.

    Why is there is no mention of the timescales for implementing the Government reform programme on issues like
    1) The referendum on the abolition of the Senate;
    2) the repeal of the 2003 Freedom of Information Act;
    3) limited terms of reference for the Constitutional Convention;
    4) The Government limp-wristed attitude to any recommendations of the Convention?

    The “reform” part of the Department is a complete misnomer – “Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday but never jam today”

    Other information is also missing no mention of eg.
    1) the new tax on residential properties on either the Economy or Environment websites;
    2) the centralising of everything – ranging from the
    a) abolition of layers of local government;
    b) bringing Forfas into the central civil service;
    c) the abolition of the post of Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government.

    How seriously can anyone take the powers-that-be when the merge an office that – of its nature dealing with science – relies on evidence, but which is open to public scrutiny and debate.

    In contrast to this way of making progress, this web-site has all the signs of spin – which tries to distort evidence and make it difficult for open public debate to take place, in order to promote factionalism and partisanship. In short, it is so incomplete that it cannot be trusted.

    In her concluding chapter on Irish Governance in Crisis, UCD’s Dr. Niamh Hardiman observed
    “Both the policy effectiveness and the democratic legitimacy of the Irish state and governance practices are in question……..But legitimating government activity in the national context requires both responsive and efficient political institutions. On both fronts, we have seen that Irish governance structures are deficient. The net effect is that Ireland’s reflexive learning capacity is low – political actors display a weak ability not only to learn from past mistakes but also to anticipate future adaptive needs and to act on them in a timely manner…Irish political institutions display very poor adaptive efficiency….”

    I am afraid that this web-site shows just true these comments are.

  2. These guys don’t get it. A website with a bunch of graphs pulled from a seemingly random selection of areas is not a “pilot data site”. It is subject to spin.

    Think of the “information hierarchy”: data < information < knowledge < wisdom.

    Data is "discrete, objective facts or observations, which are unorganized and unprocessed" (Rowley: 2007). What is being presented on that website is not data: it's information.

    Information is "organized or structured data, which has been processed in such a way that the information now has relevance for a specific purpose or context" (Rowley: 2007, again).

    Data is agnostic. Information is data that has been spun.

    Just give us the data. In a machine-readable format. Leave the charts be. We will then take it. We will structure it. And we will make it relevant. We'll produce the charts.

    And, no. just because it is on the internet (or even in Excel) does not mean that it is machine readable. Case in hand: the killing of kildarestreet.com.

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