5 Apr 2017
10:00 - 15:30
Geneva, Switzerland


Today, data science and big data have become common concepts, yet very little is known about the ways in which diplomacy could adjust to the emerging data-driven era. Commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, DiploFoundation (Diplo) is conducting the Data Diplomacy Project. This project will provide an overall analysis of the impact of statistics and big data on diplomacy and international relations, as well as survey the practical uses of data in diplomatic activities.

Making use of the expertise available in Geneva, as well as taking the opportunity to bring together diplomats, data scientists, and other professional communities, Diplo is organising a brainstorming event on Data Diplomacy: Mapping the Field. The event will take place on 5 April 2017, between 10.00 and 15.30 CEST, at the WMO Building in Geneva, Switzerland.

The roundtable will address the following topics:

I. Data as a tool for diplomacy

  1. How do we use data to assess foreign policy? What is the expected role of (big) data in policy planning and research?
  2. What are the promises and challenges of (big) data in humanitarian affairs?
  3. What is the role of big data in public diplomacy, country branding, and rankings?
  4. What role does data play in development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular?

II. Data management for diplomacy

  1. What is the promise of (big) data and artificial intelligence for diplomatic reporting?
  2. How can and should we ensure data security in an MFA or international organisation?
  3. What are the legal, organisational, and technical challenges for assembling national data for global insights?
  4. What is it that (big) data cannot tell, solve or predict?

After a short introduction to each of these topics by a number of experts, participants will tackle these issues in smaller groups and attempt to map the outcomes of the questions. Diplo will provide a summary of the outcomes of the brainstorming day, and the participants will be kept up to date on the publication of the final Data Diplomacy report.

Preliminary programme

10.00-10.15: Opening remarks

  • Dr Jovan Kurbalija, Head of DiploFoundation
  • Dr Antti Kaski, Director for Policy Planning and Research, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

10.15-10.45: Introduction to the data diplomacy research project

10.45-11.00: Data as a tool for diplomacy: introductions by experts

11.00-12.30: Focus group discussions, presentation, and mapping exercises

12.30-13.15: Lunch

13.15-13.30: Data management for diplomacy: introductions by experts

13.30-15.00: Focus group discussions, presentation, and mapping exercises

15.00-15.30: Wrap up & conclusions


If you are interested in joining the roundtable, please write to Ms Barbara Rosen Jacobson at barbarar@diplomacy.edu. A limited number of places is available. 

Related actors:

The Geneva Internet Platform is an initative of the Swiss authorities


Members of the Steering Committee are FDFA, OFCOM, DCAF, ETH-Zürich, and the University of Geneva

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