Global Registries

by | Dec 18, 2020 | ICT4D |

global registry

It’s easy to see the attraction of a global registry of all the recipients of aid an organisation works with. There are lots of fun analytics you could run and perhaps they might be some new insights to learn. It’s likely easier to maintain than multiple registries. It feels easier to secure (although this is rarely true as centralised systems tend to have one point of failure).

And yet, global registries tend to be data honeypots. And honeypots attract all sorts of characters – good and no so good. It’s also not clear why we need one, what the purpose is.

I also wonder if we have a global registry of all the people who donate to us. Or even all of our staff. My suspicion is that we don’t for various reasons. So that makes me wonder again why we want, or think it a good thing, to have a global registry of recipients of aid? Why do we treat recipients different than staff or donors?

Now to be clear when the term ‘global registry’ is used, I understand the following: Global = the world, not something in a country. And by global registry I understand it to mean one large database hosted in the cloud somewhere.

And another thing. Access is different from architecture. And there are different types of data. Of course, there is value in knowing how many people an organisation works with globally. And even some breakdown of the ages of people we work with. However, we don’t need one database to accomplish this. We simply need a way to talk to the network of databases.

I keep returning to the purpose question. What is the problem we are trying to solve with a global registry? It needs to be beyond ‘because we can’ and ‘it might be useful.’ And perhaps when we have a clear purpose, we should ask ‘what alternative options exist to achieve the same purpose?’ And if we don’t have or aren’t willing to have a global registry of donors, we might want to reflect on why it’s ok to have one for beneficiaries.

Photo by Mick Haupt

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