Four Uses of the DIAL Catalog of Digital Solutions

As digital technology becomes more commonplace in development programs, the importance of freely available, accessible, and trustworthy data on these tools becomes a critical link for development initiatives. Without data, Global Development Actors cannot discover and evaluate digital public goods (DPGs), compounding existing ecosystem challenges, such as the fragmentation and forking of source codes, duplication of effort, and the intensification of sectoral siloes.  

The UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation calls for closing the gap on digital inclusion through “better metrics, data collection, and coordination of initiatives.” Based on a recent landscape analysis conducted by DIAL, several noteworthy initiatives have emerged that aim to collect data on digital public goods and bridge the gap that the discoverability challenge generates. Among these, DIAL’s Catalog of Digital Solutions is a searchable database that aggregates information from eight other reputable sources, namely WHO’s Digital Health Atlas, Digital Square’s Global Goods, DPGA Registry, GIZ’s Toolkit, New America, OSC, Principles of Digital Development, and GitHub. The Catalog curates information on over 400 digital products and over 3000 projects with the objective to provide deeper visibility on DPGs to Global Development Actors and incentivize the reuse of existing tools. In the same spirit of reuse, the Catalog does not create data, but rather uses machine-readable sources to expand access to existing data and enable users to better evaluate DPGs.  

While the Catalog is a continually evolving tool, DIAL has done extensive user research over the past 12 months to redesign the Catalog.  Based on the feedback received from users, we have found 4 ways in which the Catalog of Digital Solutions can benefit your development program today. 

1. Use a shared taxonomy.

As a living representation of the SDG Digital Investment Framework, the Catalog promotes a shared vocabulary for evaluating digital solutions. The SDG Digital Investment Framework leverages a whole-of-society, building blocks approach, which promotes a sector agnostic methodology for evaluating DPGs. In other words, modular components of digital solutions can be used across a variety of implementations in different sectors. The framework provides a common language to help connect required technical language with real life use cases.  

What about users that are not familiar with the SDG Digital Investment Framework? 

In a recent survey of Catalog users conducted by DIAL, 50% of respondents indicated that they are familiar with the SDG Digital Investment Framework. For these users, the Catalog hosts search capabilities using the 4 components of the framework. For users that are not familiar with the ontology, the Catalog also has a powerful filtering and search function to navigate products, implementations, and organizations. Users are still able to search for products and projects by more universally understood parameters, such as by country, by sector, or by using tags.  

2. Improve evaluation of digital solutions.

As a “catalog of catalogs”, DIAL’s catalog offers users up-to-date and timely information in a single view, reducing efforts required to manually link data. This saves time and effort and improves overall efficiency in discovery of data on DPGs. The catalog organizes information in a way that makes it easy for users to search and filter to quickly find what they need. The aim is to help global development actors gather and locate quality data more comprehensively.

What type of information can users find on the Catalog? 

The powerful, intuitive search functionality can be used to retrieve a wide array of data: 

  • Products: The product cards provide a quick overview of each digital tool, including information on the SDGs that the product is designed to support, as well as any building blocks that may be supported by the product. The cards show how the product is licensed as well as information about our sources of information for the product. 
  • Traceability information: Users can locate the original sources of the data displayed on the product card and on the detailed product page.  
  • Endorsers of the Digital Principles: Users can easily discover which organizations have endorsed the Principles through the map view or on organization cards. 
  • Maturity assessments: The product cards also contain maturity scores which are sourced from organizations such as Digital Square and the Open Source Center. Although DIAL does maintains neutrality and does not endorse specific products, the scores provide a reflection of ratings from reputable organizations. 
  • Implementation information: Users that are interested in seeing how a product has supported a use case can find information on over 3000 projects implemented in a diverse spread of countries, by different organizations, across varied sectors. 

3. Access guidance resources.

With the new recommendation wizard, users can find resources that would be useful for their projects at every phase of the lifecycle, including relevant Principles of Digital Development, DIAL’s Procurement Guide, and the MD4D Handbook. Recommendations from the Wizard can also indicate similar projects, candidate products, use cases, building blocks, and information of mobile network aggregators that can help users set up mobile solutions quickly.  

The DIAL Catalog of Digital Solutions’ new recommendation wizard.

4. Connect with a community.

To fully unlock the value of data, the Catalog provides a way to interact with a growing community of users, including GovStack experts that are working on technical specifications of common building blocks. Today, users can sign up  and access the discourse pages for products and building blocks and follow or join conversations that interest them. Product maintainers have the option of claiming their product pages within the Catalog to ensure their contact details and information is up-to-date and current.   

Don’t see something you need in the Catalog? 

DIAL’s Catalog of Digital Solutions is a continually evolving tool, and our team is actively seeking user feedback. If you are a GDA or a product maintainer, we would like to hear from you on how the Catalog can support your work. Please visit the Catalog at https://solutions.dial.community or reach out to catalog-support@dial.community.