The Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) meets at the end of this month to establish, among other things, the development of global reporting mechanisms (http://unstats.un.org/sdgs). We suggest that data that have been crowdsourced by civil-society ventures should be incorporated into the international process of monitoring the SDGs.
To address potential issues of data quality, initiatives such as the Open Seventeen Challenge are necessary to train organizers of crowdsourcing projects (see http://openseventeen.org). This initiative draws on advice from leaders in advocacy, governance and crowdsourcing tools. It is run by Citizen Cyberlab, a partnership between the University of Geneva, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Europe's particle-physics lab CERN.
For crowdsourcing to achieve its full potential, governments will need to support projects that promote public participation in measuring progress towards the SDGs. National statistics offices must develop best practices for integrating crowdsourced data.
As a first step, we encourage the IAEG-SDGs to emphasize crowdsourcing as a legitimate and valuable contribution to tracking the goals.