Cross-posted on: http://theconversation.com/how-social-media-data-can-improve-peoples-lives-if-used-responsibly-75367
By: Stefaan G. Verhulst
In January 2015, heavy rains triggered unprecedented floods in Malawi. Over the next five weeks, the floods displaced more than 230,000 people and damaged over 64,000 hectares of land.
Almost half the country was labelled a “disaster zone” by Malawi’s government. And as the humanitarian crisis unfolded, relief agencies, such as the Red Cross were faced with the daunting task of allocating aid and resources to places that were virtually unrecorded by the country’s mapping data, and thus rendered almost invisible.
Humanitarian workers struggled to navigate in many of the most affected areas, and one result was that aid did not necessarily reach those most in need.
To prevent similar knowledge gaps in the future, researchers, volunteers and humanitarian workers in Malawi and elsewhere, have turned to an unlikely partner: Facebook.
In 2016, as part of its “Missing Maps” project, the Red Cross accessed Facebook’s rich population density data to find and map people who were critically vulnerable to natural disasters and health emergencies, but remained unrecorded in existing maps.
On Friday 31 March, HumanityX organised a panel session at RightsCon in Brussels, one of the largest gatherings for Human Rights and technology experts worldwide. The session was hosted in close collaboration with Benetech, Data&Society, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
Cross-posted on: https://www.humanityx.nl/news/rightscon-panel-session-private-sector-data-responsibility/
By Jos Berens
Our session ‘Private Sector & Data Responsibility: Helping Refugees in a Digital Age’ featured contributions from Orange Telecom, Stripe, Mapbox and GeoPoll and was set up as a ‘moderated consultancy dialogue’, in which participants from various angles were invited to provide their perspectives on the sharing of digital data collected by the private sector, to help inform refugee assistance efforts.
Outcomes of the session
There was broad agreement on the need for adequate governance of digital data sharing by the private sector, highlighting that the rights for data subjects should be accompanied by adequate remedies, to make sure that people can actively enforce those rights. Given the uncertainty regarding risk and potential harms it is better to err on the side of caution: if it is not clear whether an organisation has the proper information security infrastructure in place, it is advisable not to share sensitive information, even if it could be valuable.
There is willingness among private sector actors to engage in data sharing for humanitarian efforts, but for this to happen, both the precise demand from the humanitarian side, as well as the appropriate governance of the data sharing arrangement need to be clear. Educational tools are key to inform those working on data use to ensure that best practices are adhered to.
Small scale experimentation in safe spaces will inform the next steps and several organisations present at the meeting expressed their interest in exploring collaborations. As platforms that bring together a wide variety of partners, HumanityX and the International Data Responsibility Group will continue to facilitate and support such explorations.
Proprietary data can help improve and save lives, but fully harnessing its potential will require a cultural transformation in the way companies, governments, and other organizations treat and act on data.
Cross-posted on: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/corporate_social_responsibility_for_a_data_age?platform=hootsuite
By Stefaan G. Verhulst
In April 2015, the Gorkha earthquake hit Nepal—the worst in more than 80 years. Hundreds of thousands of people were rendered homeless and entire villages were flattened. The earthquake also triggered massive avalanches on Mount Everest, and ultimately killed nearly 9,000 people across the country.
Yet for all the destruction, the toll could have been far greater. Without mitigating or in any way denying the horrible disaster that hit Nepal that day, the responsible use of data helped avoid a worse calamity and may offer lessons for other disasters around the world.
A perspective on the 2016 International Data Responsibility Conference in The Hague, The Netherlands
By: Reint-Jan Groot Nuelend
With input and feedback from Walle Bos
On 19 February, the International Data Responsibility Group (IDRG) hosted the second International Data Responsibility Conference in The Hague, The Netherlands. This annual meeting brings together experts and practitioners working with data for crisis-affected communities and the most at-risk populations worldwide. Through presentations by a variety of experts and six interactive workshops – of which the author visited two – participants explored the potential risks and harms that could be caused by using this data, and ways to prevent these from materializing. This year’s International Data Responsibility Conference was a forward-looking conference centring on finding solutions to the worries about data use for doing good.
During the opening plenary panel discussion moderated by Constantijn van Oranje, the World Food Programme (WFP) showcased the potential of data use for increased efficiency of food programmes. In a pioneering project with Leiden University, WFP is exploring the potential of using data on the movement and mobility of credit cards in Lebanon, to better understand the behaviour of its beneficiary populations and to detect anomalies in spending patterns. Having knowledge of the movements of people can be a strong added value to the effective implementation of programmes within target areas. Besides presenting its own work with and on data, WFP explicitly intended to learn from the conference. Following the latter intention, the WFP posed the following question: how can one avoid harm, while effectively and sustainably using digital data to benefit the people that need it most?
Cross-posted on: http://thegovlab.org/data-collaboratives-for-official-statistics/
Joint OECD - PARIS21 Workshop – “Access to New Data Sources for Statistics: Business Models for Private-Public Partnerships”
On December 18th 2015, the Data Governance Project (DGP) was part of an OECD/Paris21 event organized in Paris on the use of new data sources for official statistics. Leiden’s DGP lead Jos Berens presented the decision flow tool, a result of the benchmarking exercise that was done to map best practices for forging Data Collaboratives – mutually beneficial, sustainable efforts wherein the value of data is shared between public and private sector.
Cross-posted on http://thegovlab.org/data-prizes-and-challenges-as-data-collaboratives-terms-and-conditions/
By Jos Berens and Stefaan G. Verhulst
Over the last few months we have noticed increased discussion and activity around “data collaboratives” in which participants from different sectors — including private companies, research institutions, and government agencies — exchange data to help solve public problems. Efforts such as the Orange Data for Development Challenge, where private sector actors are exploring new ways to make data available to address societal challenges, are encouraging. In parallel with rising interest in such initiatives comes an increased need to consider how to share corporate data while mitigating internal and external risks.
There exist several methods to share corporate data including open API’s, data-enclaves and grand data challenges and prize-induces contests. The latter are unique as they allow a variety of actors to find new solutions using a shared dataset. Leveraging the power of the crowd, this method of open problem solving is particularly fitting for the big data space as it helps give back power to data subjects and their peers. It expands upon other efforts to leverage open innovation tools including prizes and challenges.
The GovLab Selected Readings on Data Governance
Cross-posted from http://thegovlab.org/the-govlab-selected-readings-on-data-governance/
By Jos Berens and Stefaan G. Verhulst
Our work on Data Collaboratives starts from the assumption that sharing and opening-up private sector datasets has great – and yet untapped - potential for promoting social good (See for instance GovLab selected readings on data collaboratives). At the same time, the potential of data collaboratives depends on the level of societal trust in the exchange, analysis and use of the data exchanged. Strong data governance frameworks are essential to ensure responsible data use. Without such governance regimes, the emergent data ecosystem will be hampered and the (perceived) risks will dominate the (perceived) benefits. Further, without adopting a human-centered approach to the design of data governance frameworks, including iterative prototyping and careful consideration of the experience, the responses may fail to be flexible and targeted to real needs.
To help develop new approaches to sharing corporate data assets for social good, GovLab is working with Leiden University (The Netherlands) and the World Economic Forum Data-Driven Development project. Our Data Governance Project aims to design and implement the approaches and tools needed to unleash the datasets that could be used to improve people’s lives. Our work builds upon existing efforts and findings, some of them curated and documented below. For more information about the Data Governance Project please contact Jos Berens or Stefaan Verhulst.
Thank you for visiting our brand-new data governance weblog. This space will be a repository of original and referenced material produced by or used in the Data Governance Project, a collaboration between Leiden University's Peace Informatics lab, NYU's GovLab and the World Economic Forum Data-Driven Development Initiative. The central theme of these posts will be the governance of data use for social good. Materials will include research findings, conference reports, and suggestions for relevant reading materials.
Contact details can be found on the right hand side of this page. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments regarding the posts. We hope that you will find the materials in this space useful for informing your work and look forward to seeing your replies!
Josje Spierings is head of the Secretariat of the International Data Responsibility Group, a collaboration between the Data & Society Research Institute, Data-Pop Alliance, the GovLab at NYU, UN Global Pulse, Signal Program - Harvard Humanitarian Initiative - Harvard University and Leiden University.