DataFirst turns 21!
DataFirst, the University of Cape Town’s internationally recognised Open Data Repository and Research Unit, is 21 years old this year! DataFirst has provided the world with open access to socioeconomic data from African countries and trained African data analysts since 2001. This milestone was celebrated by our team with the acting-VC Sue Harrison, the Dean of Commerce, Suki Goodman, and UCT colleagues at a cocktail party on Friday 2 September. The event was followed up by a Data Quality Workshop on 5 September, the latest in a series of such workshops organised by us since 2008.
From beginnings as an on-site research data centre on Upper Campus, we have grown to become a trusted online resource for high-quality African data for social policy research. Over 15,000 researchers have registered to download data from our open data site since it went live in 2010. Over the years we have partnered with African governments and universities to open access to a wide range of data, including historical South African data at risk of being lost forever.
Our unit, now based on Middle Campus, has won numerous awards, including the Data Seal of Approval, the National Science and Technology Forum’s Data for Research Award, and the CoreTrustSeal certification for Trusted Digital Repositories, the only African holder of this award.
At the celebration, our Director, Professor Martin Wittenberg, commended his team for their work and thanked the University of Cape Town’s Management for their support over the years. He announced that we would institute the “Francis Wilson memorial prize for data-driven research” in honour of Professor Francis Wilson, the first Director of DataFirst, who passed away this year. The prize will continue the work of DataFirst facilitating socially meaningful research.