Data Stories Prize Winners Announced: Let’s Let Data Speak! | Land Portal

Earlier this year, in honor of International Open Data Day, which took place on March 2nd, we put out a call, asking Land Portal users and any and all interested to submit their very own data stories to the Land Portal.  What we were looking for were stories that were unique and original, and that presented data in innovative and engaging ways.  We realized that this was no easy feat, but each and every one of the submissions we received made inventive use of photos, quotes, maps and infographics to tell compelling stories.  In the end, the below mentioned stories made the best use of these elements.  Keep scrolling for some context and background to our data stories contest and on our goal to let data speak and spark meaningful conversations.  

What are data stories? 

Data stories are an agile and malleable form of communication that are intended for non-specialized audiences.  It differentiates itself from any other type of communications product by attempting to understand the story, context, history and people, the meaning, behind the data. Data stories can include text, interviews, videos, infographics and maps to tell a narrative in a compelling way, based on what is deemed appropriate on a case by case basis. By telling the story behind data, we empower much more people to become part of the data revolution and ensure that data does not remain just an empty statistic - but is used to invoke positive change!   


Why a data stories contest? 

We continuously repeat that one of our main goals and missions is to help democratize the information landscape on land! We’ve launched a data stories contest in order to do just this, allow any and all are using land data to tell compelling stories.  We want to shine a light not only on the authors of these stories, but on the initiatives and research that their stories document.  


Who are the winners and what are their stories about? 

In the end, three of the stories we received captured our attention. The first prize went to Mr. Konrad Hentze, who submitted “How Satellites Can Local Potential Land Grabs in Africa”.   The story focuses on large scale land investments on the African continent. More specifically, the storyline gives an overview of current land grabbing databases, their lack of spatial information and how remote sensing datasets can overcome this lack when being used to detect large scale agricultural production schemes.

The second prize went to Ms. Caroline Long, who submitted “The Power of Land”.   The story focuses on women's land rights and customary law in Sierra Leone.  More specifically, the story emanates from the work of two NGOs, Trocaire and Action and Advocacy for Development (AAD).  Both organizations have been working to collect data about women’s right to land.  After speaking to hundreds of men and women in three districts in the North of Sierra Leone - Bombali, Kambia and Port Loko -  a picture of the realities of land ownership and access under customary law began to emerge. The details are depicted in this story.  

The third prize went to Mr. Jur Schuurman, who submitted “The Burden of History: Land and a Divided Community in San Jose Sinache, Guatemala”.   The story focuses on land conflicts in Guatemala.  More specifically, the story provides an interesting perspective on how, especially in Guatemala, land is an issue that cannot be understood if history is ignored.  


How did we come to our final decisions regarding the winners? 

As mentioned above, we were fortunate enough to receive impressive and noteworthy stories.  In the end, we judged and assessed the stories according to a variety of different categories, including language and tone, whether the story was innovative and captured attention and whether the piece spoke to a non-expert audience. 


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