“What is a platform?” Last week in Vientiane, representatives from information platforms based in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and regionally came together to answer that question. Stacks of post-its later, there was something resembling consensus.
The purpose of the get-together? The Swiss Agency for Development and Collaboration had convened a meeting of key authorities on information sharing in the region to discuss how existing platforms might be better used, through classification, and to propose ways forward – perhaps the creation of new platforms or refinement of existing ones.
An email survey of participants before the workshop kicked off had produced a taxonomy of the diverse range of platforms available to researchers and communities in the Mekong. Spanning face-to-face networks, social networks, data repositories, and geospatial data portals, from the global to the local levels, the platforms on display at the beginning of the workshop were complemented as participants added to the list over the course of two days.
By the end of the two-day workshop, apparent consensus was that similar events in the future would need more diverse guest lists to fuel productive dialogue. Several attendees cited the lack of government figure attendance as evidence of an under-reliance on the significant body of data available on land and water issues in the Mekong.