Amelia Burnham, Politics Student at University of Manchester undertook an internship with the UK SDG team. Learn about her experience setting up an Open SDG platform for the Liverpool 2030 Hub:
Over the summer of 2021, I undertook an internship with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) team at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK. My main role was to construct an Open SDG platform for the City of Liverpool to publish their SDG data. Open SDG is an open source, free-to-use platform, for managing and reporting data and statistics related to the SDGs.
I found this to be a stimulating and rewarding piece of work. Being almost a complete novice at the start of my internship, I soon learnt that building an Open SDG platform is more than accessible for beginners or those lacking in prior knowledge or technical skills. I have put together a few pieces of advice and guidance for anyone else building a data platform based on Open SDG and loading data and metadata into it.
Make use of the Open SDG guidance
Initially setting up a data platform seemed daunting, especially from the perspective of a politics student with little experience in the field (or full-time work for that matter!). I had never used GitHub before (which the platform is hosted on) so it took a few attempts to get familiar with it, and how the configuration of the website worked.
However, with the use of the Open SDG guidance and the assistance of the SDGs team, this quickly became second nature. The guidance contains everything you would need to know on how to set up a platform, including frequently asked questions, a glossary of terms, video tutorials and easy-to-follow instructions on each step of installation and the uploading of data and metadata.
Being able to use the guidance and have the back up option of assistance from the SDG team ensured that the process was enjoyable and completed with ease.
Be consistent when loading data and metadata
Maintaining consistency was key throughout. It is important to keep a consistent layout throughout the website – for example, with features such as wording, date and year formats, and where information about the data is located. This ensures the platform looks professional, is user-friendly and follows guidelines.
It is worth noting that errors can occur when manually loading lots of data and metadata. So it is highly important to be persistent, consistent and even quite picky with GitHub and the platform. Small errors can cause larger issues, so attention to detail and thoroughly checking over your work (or getting a colleague to check it) is key. Also make sure to make use of features and processes built into GitHub for checking information before it is loaded into the platform.
Keep track of progress
I would highly recommend keeping track of your progress with acquiring and loading data and metadata. I created a spreadsheet consisting of each indicator I was uploading, followed by columns of actions e.g. whether I had uploaded the data, completed adding all metadata information and double checked my work. I then colour-coded the spreadsheet to track the progress I had made and linked the dataset or resource I had used. This was extremely useful in keeping track of my progress, allowing me to be aware of what I had done already and my next actions.
Overall, the experience of building an Open SDG platform was interesting and enjoyable. It didn’t take long to feel familiar with the process and it was largely satisfying watching the platform come together. I would happily undertake the task again, and would urge others, no matter their experience within this field, to do so too.