Data Sharing Factors

by | Oct 9, 2019 | ICT4D |

“Start with the end in mind” is one of Stephen Covey’s famous quotes. It’s a good place to start and interwoven with purpose.

When considering sharing data with another organisation thinking about the ‘end’ is important. What is the end result or future state you are imagining? Are the other organisations imagining the same future? This might seem odd, but stick with me.

If it’s a one-off sharing of a specific, well-defined dataset about the prices of various food items in a local market. Then the ‘end state’ will likely be org A gives org B the dataset and both have it to do with as they wish. Quite straightforward. Emailing it is likely ok.

However, let’s imagine that the same dataset contains the names of and other information about the sellers at the market. The end result is likely the same, but the how becomes very different. Less straightforward due to sensitive information being included. Unencrypted email is not ok.

But what if it is not a one-off sharing of data, what if you want to be able to keep the data up to date as prices or sellers change? The ‘end state’ here requires some form of ongoing data sharing between the organisations involved. The ‘end state’ is that all organisations have the same data all the time. Not straightforward at all. Email is not a viable option.

And so the ‘end state’ becomes a bit more complicated. Do we all want to have the same data in our systems or only the part that I need? Or do we not want or need the data in our database, but simply want access to it? And even one step further, do we need the raw data or just the answer to questions about the data (i.e. % of female sellers)?

When data sharing is a one-off, one way sharing of non-sensitive data, the process can be quite simple. When any of the factors (frequency, direction, or type) change, things become more complicated. The end state changes significantly and so do our design and governance choices.

Digital Public do good work on data governance issues; there are two short podcast episodes on Data Trusts and Data Sharing here.

Photo by Anna Kaminova

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