Development, humanitarian and human rights organizations increasingly collect and use digital data at the various stages of their programming. This type of data has the potential to yield great benefit, but it can also increase individual and community exposure to harm and privacy risks. How can we as a sector better balance data collection and open data sharing with privacy and security, especially when it involves the most vulnerable?
A number of donors, humanitarian and development organizations (including Oxfam, CRS, UN bodies and others) have developed or are in the process of developing guidelines to help them to be more responsible about collection, use, sharing and retention of data from those who participate in their programs.
I’m part of a team (including mStar, Sonjara, Georgetown University, the USAID Global Development Lab, and an advisory committee that includes several shining stars from the ‘responsible data’ movement) that is conducting research on existing practices, policies, systems, and legal frameworks through which international development data is collected, used, shared, and released. Based on this research, we’ll develop ‘responsible data’ practice guidelines for USAID that aim to help:
- Mitigate privacy and security risks for beneficiaries and others
- Improve performance and development outcomes through use of data
- Promote transparency, accountability and public good through open data
The plan is to develop draft guidelines and then to test their application on real programs.
We are looking for digital development projects to assess how our draft guidelines would work in real world settings. Once the projects are selected, members of the research team will visit them to better understand “on-the-ground” contexts and project needs. We’ll apply draft practice guidelines to each case with the goal of identifying what parts of the guidelines are useful/ applicable, and where the gaps are in the guidelines. We’ll also capture feedback from the project management team and partners on implications for project costs and timelines, and we’ll document existing digital data-related good practices and lessons. These findings will further refine USAID’s Responsible Data Practice guidelines.
What types of projects are we looking for?
- Ongoing or recently concluded projects that are using digital technologies to collect, store, analyze, manage, use and share individuals’ data.
- Cases where data collected is sensitive or may put project participants at risk.
- The project should have informal or formal processes for privacy/security risk assessment and mitigation especially with respect to field implementation of digital technologies (listed above) as part of their program. These may be implicit or explicit (i.e. documented or written). They potentially include formal review processes conducted by ethics review boards or institutional review boards (IRBs) for projects.
- All sectors of international development and all geographies are welcome to submit case studies. We are looking for diversity in context and programming.
- We prefer case studies from USAID-funded projects but are open to receiving case studies from other donor-supported projects.
If you have a project or an activity that falls into the above criteria, please let us know here. We welcome multiple submissions from one organization; just reuse the form for each proposed case study.
And please share this call with others who may be interested in contributing case studies.
Also feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions about the project or the call!