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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 that will run throughout the year. These are being organised with the aim of:

  1. Exploring the trends and best practices in data science that are of relevance for diplomacy and international affairs.
  2. Analysing the limitations and challenges related to the application of big data to diplomacy and international affairs.
  3. Fostering dialogue among data scientists and diplomatic communities.
  4. Raising awareness and understanding on the topic of data diplomacy among foreign affairs officials.

Policy research

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:

  • To illustrate the use, best practices, and potential pitfalls of data in different diplomatic activities, including consular affairs, strategic planning and policy research, diplomatic reporting, public diplomacy, development and humanitarian aid, and international law
  • To highlight the limitations and challenges of data by looking at questions of data access, quality, misinterpretation, privacy, and security
  • To gain an understanding of the role of data in terms of the organisational culture and structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and to be able to offer advice on capacity building and organisational transformation

The final report will be published and presented at a high-level event at the end of 2017, which will gather foreign affairs officials to bring greater awareness to the topic of data science and its intersection with diplomacy.

Data diplomacy seminars

The policy research is accompanied by two data diplomacy seminars, one in Geneva and one in Helsinki. The seminars gather diplomats, data scientists, policy experts, and other professional communities involved in data diplomacy. They facilitate cross-professional dialogue and aim to initiate an ongoing process aimed at providing dialogue, training, and awareness-building in data diplomacy.
 

Data Diplomacy: Mapping the Field

The first seminar took place in Geneva on 5 April 2017, and explored the wide range of data applications and challenges in the field of diplomacy. Read the summary report.
 

Big Data for Diplomacy

The second seminar will look more closely at big data in the context of diplomacy and foreign affairs, and will assess best practices and potential pitfalls. The seminar will take place in Helsinki in autumn 2017.

Contact and further information

Learn more about data diplomacy. Get in touch with Diplo’s Data Diplomacy team at data@diplomacy.edu.

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