Data science and big data have become commonly-heard concepts, yet very little is known about how and to what extent diplomacy could adjust to the emerging data-driven era.
DiploFoundation’s research project on Data Diplomacy, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, provides an overall analysis of the impact of big data on diplomacy and international affairs.
The Data Diplomacy project includes policy research, data policy seminars, and other activities. These are being organised with the aim of:
The policy research analyses the opportunities, limitations, challenges, and management of big data in diplomatic institutions and international organisations. The main aims of the research project are:
This report aims to increase the awareness of the opportunities, limitations, and challenges of the big data trend, and to understand how ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) could adapt their work, procedures, and organisational structures to the big data era. In this report, we provide a broad overview of the main opportunities of big data in different diplomatic fields and functions, and highlight the key issues that need to be addressed for big data diplomacy to flourish.
This framework of possibilities and constraints opens up a diversity of applications and implications that can be explored in further detail, and is meant to inform MFAs that are exploring big data to adapt diplomatic practice to the data driven era where possible and feasible.
Through advancing an understanding of what big data can do for diplomacy, how it can be put to use by MFAs, and which aspects need to be kept in mind when using big data, this report aims to ultimately serve as a toolkit for data diplomacy.
Specifically, the report looks at the key concepts of data diplomacy (chapter one), the use of big data in international affairs (chapter two), organisational considerations for the MFA (chapter three), and key aspects concerning the use of big data (chapter four).
Areas of big data potential: Big data can contribute to a number of diplomatic fields and functions, albeit in different ways. To generalise, we have identified six ways in which big data could benefit diplomacy and the corresponding fields and functions for which they are most relevant.
Download the report Data Diplomacy: Updating diplomacy to the big data era and the Executive Summary.
The policy research was accompanied by two data diplomacy seminars, one in Geneva and one in Helsinki, and the launch of the data diplomacy report in Geneva. The seminars gathered diplomats, data scientists, policy experts, and other professional communities involved in data diplomacy. They facilitated cross-professional dialogue and aimed to initiate an ongoing process for providing dialogue, training, and awareness-building in data diplomacy.
Data Diplomacy: Mapping the Field
Big Data for Diplomacy
The second seminar, which took place in Helsinki on 9 October 2017, looked more closely at big data in the context of diplomacy and foreign affairs, and assessed best practices and potential pitfalls. Read the summary report.
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