NCAER with its consortium partners, University of Maryland and University of Michigan, has set up a National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC) in December 2017. The main objective of the NDIC is to serve as a laboratory for experiments in data collection, interfacing with partners in think tanks, Indian and international universities, and government. Initial funding for NDIC is provided by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Prof. Sonalde Desai, Professor, NCAER University of Maryland, is serving as its first director.
In a dynamic research and policy environment with a growing demand for data, it is crucial to invest in methods of data collection leading to timely, high-quality and policy-relevant data. Changing socio-economic conditions and technological innovations necessitate rethinking of the kind of data that are collected and how they are collected, and also ways they are collated and made accessible to users. In this context, NCAER National Data Innovation Centre is visualized as the center of innovation and excellence in data collection with the objective of strengthening the data ecosystem in India.
The main objective of NDIC is to address problems with existing data streams and important data currently not collected; foster, incubate, mainstream, and increase uptake of innovative data collection methods; and improve the triangulation and compatibility of distinct but related datasets. In particular, NDIC’s activities are aimed to:
Promote technology-based data collection methods and quality assurance modules across various substantive domains such as household income, expenditure, borrowing; labor force participation; financial inclusion; health insurance and healthcare expenditure; education; gender equality and empowerment
Engage with diverse stakeholders, including data researchers, and data professionals located within government national data agencies
Build capacity at the local level through formal and informal training in survey methodology and other topics related to computer-assisted data collection methods
Develop and sustain a broader collaborative network through seminars, conferences, regular partner meetings, newspaper and social media engagement