Efficiency, Waste and Sensitive Data

by | Sep 5, 2019 | ICT4D |

We often think efficiency reduces waste, but what happens when it creates waste? Is it still efficient? Can it be both?

It depends who it is for. 

Take the sink unit in our bathroom. It is a cheap, off the shelf unit that is easy to make, easy to install, even easy to clean. 

The thing is it doesn’t fit. There is a one inch gap between it and the wall and a two inch gap between it and the shower. These gaps are dust traps, grit, grime, and dirt traps and a waste of space.  But the units are efficient to make and install as they are made on assembly line and quickly installed. So they are efficient in the eyes of the company making them, efficient (cheap) in terms of cost in the eyes of the builder, and efficient in terms of time to install. But wasteful in the eyes of the home owner (me). 

If it is efficient or wasteful depends on who answers. 

Being clear on who it is for or who answers the question has implications on how we design our work. 

The same can said about deciding what data is sensitive…it depends on who is answering. 

We decide based on legal frameworks so we are protected. We rarely create systems and processes that allow the person, who the data is about, to decide what is and isn’t sensitive. I perhaps if we did, the choices might surprise us.

Photo by Danielle Alvarado


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