If you have worked with other people you know there are always power dynamics at play. This is true in teams, in the school playground, in the C-suite, in the PTA, on Boards of companies and of charities and schools. It takes different forms depending on the context and the people involved, but it is there.

When we think about a Data Trust, we also need to think about the trustees as they are the ones ‘governing’ the trust. And given the fact that we are using a Data Trust to help organisations share data, there will be a reasonable expectations that the trustees will include representatives from those organisations sharing data. However, just because it is a reasonable expectation, it doesn’t mean it needs to become reality.

Choosing the trustees is an important task, but it highlights the critical importance of defining the purpose of the Data Trust. If we get that correct, then who the trustees are becomes a little less important because the trustees job is to ensure the Trust fulfils its purpose. (It’s a bit similar to my regular refrain about being clear on the problem we are trying to solve.)

So if we define the purpose of the Trust narrowly and very clearly, and if ensure that the purpose is transparent, then the trustees role becomes a bit easier and it might help the reduce power dynamics.

And once we’ve done this a few times, we can keep the Trust super lightweight so that it can be easily used in disasters when time is of the essence. We can improve our thinking by adding DIDs, doing threat modelling, access modelling, and so on. The concept of Data Trusts might just be a critical building block in the shift to humanitarian micro-services, which the cash community has been leading us towards.

Photo by Caleb Angel

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