What is your name?
Country of birth? Citizenship?
Date of birth?
Address? Please provide proof of address.
Married? Single? Partner? Divorced?
Any children? If so, what are their names, DOB, place of birth?
Anyone else who lives with you?
The list could go on. We are all quite familiar with forms asking us for this information in almost every aspect of our lives and have likely shared it countless times. There is lots of other information we share as well – drivers licence, passport, health information, education transcripts, and so on. It really doesn’t matter where you live in the world or what status you have, we all need to share information with others regularly, yet most of us have no idea who has our information and why.
In the humanitarian space, we capture lots of information about people affected by crises and disasters everyday – more and more often now, we are capturing this data digitally rather than on paper. We need the information for various organisational purposes.
I am struck by how often different projects in the same organisation will capture the same data from the same people or how multiple organisations working with the same person will capture this same data. Similar to our lives, we are people affected by disasters to people the same data countless times. For some reason, we seem to have fallen in love with form filling so much that we are passing this love on to others.
We capture data for our organisations, but we don’t make it useful at all for the person who’s information it is. Frankly, we haven’t even thought about it, we’ve been focused on ourselves and not our customers (or beneficiaries in social organisations).
When an organisation interacts with a person, they should create a digital wallet of sorts that would allow the information to be captured and then stored in the wallet. Then when anytime someone is asking for information, the wallet can quickly, securely and easily provide that information. AND if the wallet would store a record, a log of sorts, of which organisation my information has been shared with, I could actually understand this.
Thankfully, this is starting to happen and become real through the likes of the Sovrin Foundation, the Solid Project, Evernym, Uport, Yoti, and others. Hopefully, NGOs will soon get on board too.