Published On: May 17, 2023

The Foundation hosted an in-person “Data Party” for the Bridging the Gaps community to analyze and discuss data related to our community-based Environmental Scan and Legal Needs Assessment Project. The meeting took place in Calgary on April 18th, 2023.

What is a data party?

A data party is “a technique for including collaborators and other intended users’ voices in reviewing and interpreting data prior to drafting a final report or plan of action.” 1

Data parties increase transparency, equity and can: 2

  • Identify differences in people’s perceptions
  • Increase people’s knowledge of the area
  • Improve interpretation
  • Increase people’s capacity to understand and use data
  • Empower collaborators’ voices and incorporate/affirm lived experience
  • Identify what data might still be needed
  • Increase people’s ownership of data
  • Build consensus on the results & conclusions
  • Develop more realistic recommendations
  • Increase buy-in for later implementation
  • Inform better programming and policies.

The Bridging the Gaps Data Party

Forty people attended, including one event facilitator and six table facilitators. The Data Party focused on investigating the following questions:

  • What is the community-based Environmental Scan and Legal Needs Assessment Project?
  • What data have we gathered so far?
  • How does the data collected reflect participants’ experiences?
  • What else do we need to learn?
  • What action does the data suggest we take?

Data sets reviewed include:

  • Bridging the Gaps Legal Needs Survey (created by the Foundation)
  • Self-Represented Litigants Legal Needs Survey (created by the Foundation)
  • Statistics Canada Canadian Legal Problems Survey (2021) (Canada and Alberta custom tables created for the Foundation)
  • 211 Alberta Data Dashboards and custom tables created for the Foundation
  • Legal Clinics and Legal Aid Alberta data reported to the Foundation

All data sets will be included in the final report of the Environmental Scan and Legal Needs Assessment Project. A summary of discussions from the Data Party will be sent to the Bridging the Gaps group.

Data Party Evaluation

The Foundation distributed an evaluation survey at the end of the event. Highlights include:

  • 78.8% of participants responded to the evaluation survey.
  • 88.5% agreed they learned about justice sector data that they were not aware of before.
  • 80.8% agreed they learned more about data collection, analysis, and limitations than they knew before.
  • 100% agreed that group discussions stimulated ideas for further investigation.
  • 96.1% agreed that they have built and strengthened relationships with other justice stakeholders during the data party.
  • 100% would like to attend another Bridging the Gaps

Work Going Forward

At the end of the Data Party, participants were asked to pick 5 areas (out of 20) they would like to continue to explore. The top 7 themes were (same number of votes from 3 to 7):

  1. Data and evaluation
  2. Communication and coordination
  3. Indigenous
  4. Newcomers
  5. Seniors
  6. Services at the courthouse
  7. Restorative justice

This information, and other learnings from the research project, will guide future Bridging the Gaps research and engagement opportunities. All findings will be included in the final report and will inform the Foundation’s grant-making for the coming years.


1 Kylie Hutchinson (Community Solutions Planning & Evaluations), Engage Your Collaborators With Data Parties (2021)

2 Ibid.

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