The National Policy Monitoring tool, BelizeInfo, was launched today in Belize City. BelizeInfo is an online database system created by the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation. The tedious process of collecting years of necessary data began almost two years ago and now the system has over 65,000 data values across a range of sectors and themes. The main purpose of BelizeInfo is to assist government and agencies to create policies and program. According to Social Planner for the Ministry, Mark Antrobus, BelizeInfo is a two-tier management information system that disseminates data in a structured manner, enabling users to easily analyse and visualise data, and export this in many formats.
“We didn’t start from scratch, we have data, we have a lot of data in the country but what we’ve never had is really a systematic way of putting it all together to analyze data from different sectors. So if you look in your crime and security it isn’t just the number of crimes that we have it’s going to be able to reduce the crime rates we need to look at education, health, the social context and so it’s being able to put all of this data in one place, bring it all together and enhance the analysis we’ve been able to do in the past and create better results. We took a decision very early on in the project so that we weren’t going to focus just on crime and justice data, we wanted to look at a national policy making tool for the country and for government and so you are right it’s not just government data that we have it’s not just Ministries it’s anyone who produces data in the country that we can then upload into this system and so that right there is a challenge getting data from a number of sources. We’ve got data over the last few years in paper format, in PDF format, in excel format and so putting all of that in one system has been a challenge and it’s getting much better but there is still a long way to go. It’s absolutely free, it’s on the Ministry’s website so if you go to Humandevelopment.gov.bz there is a link in the menu right at the top called Belize Info and anyone in the world can access over 66,000 data values that we have in the system right now which covers six different sectors and we have over 700 indicators.
Reporter: Is it user friendly?
Voice 1: Absolutely. You saw in the demonstration that I can type in a search, I can get indicators very quickly, it shows me data, I can then put that into a graph, I can download it into excel and so anybody can take this, it’s a UN system so it’s been adopted in a number of different countries and it’s been very successful over the last decade or so.”
The two-tier approach allows Policy and Planning Units in Government to access data through a secure website and allows the general public to access through a second website, called BelizeInfo. CEO in the Ministry, Judith Alpuche, hopes that the wider public makes good use of the tool.
“What we are doing here is really trying to push even further this culture of utilization of data, so there is always a lot of data and people would use it if it’s available but it’s just going through the pain of finding it, digging it up, pulling it out the administrative data from the various ministries etc. but bringing it together like we have in Belize Info under one umbrella so you don’t have to be going to the SIB and Central Bank and all over the place but it’s collated in one area. We hope that this will help to continue to build that culture of using data. I think it’s useful to anybody, to students, to the media even when you are doing in depth pieces on crime and violence or any sector of society so we are hoping that because it’s available; it’s kind of like build it and they will come. So if it’s available then people will start to use it and then there will be that demand for it and we are seeing more and more because there are a lot of discussions within the Ministries as to who will keep this database. We gave birth and now we want to find someone to adopt it because we believe that maybe there are entities that are better poised than we are at the Ministry of Human Development to take this on and to ensure it’s sustainability but we are grounding this within trying to bring policy and planning units on board etc. and as I said creating that culture so that it becomes second nature to people and if the public is using it then there will be that demand for it to continue and be sustained.”
BelizeInfo can be accessed through the Ministry’s website at www. humandevelopment.gov.bz