Flood Prevention can teach us about Data Management

by | May 29, 2021 | ICT4D |

flooding

There is a stream on the edge of our property. Nothing major, but there is a constant flow of water all year round. Within a few weeks of moving in, the stream flooded. Not only did the stream flood, but water came into our driveway from the road. Therefore, flooding has been top of our mind when we fix up our property. We have knocked down outbuildings in flood zone and anything new we construct is done with flooding in mind. A friend of ours is flooding expert reminds us to think about 100 year flood levels, not just what we experienced. And so we make provisions accordingly.

But here’s the thing. Just because there was a significant flood in 1966 doesn’t mean it will happen again. But it might. And it is easier to plan for it now than be caught unprepared. Plus we know that our atmospheric cancer (aka climate change) is impacting water levels and weather across the globe and in our backyard. So it seems sensible and wise to use clever landscaping and building methods as flood prevention.

The same is true about technology and data management. We know data breaches happen. We know harmful practices occur which lead to irresponsible data management and technology choices. And we know, this happens no matter what values and ethos organisations have or aspire to. It is worth asking what is the ‘100 year’ negative data/technology event we need to consider?

Digital transformation efforts are occurring globally and similar to climate change they are impacting all areas of organisational operations. And so responsible data practices are similar to flood prevention methods. Things we do now that help prevent or reduce the impact of negative events in the future. But it is not all about the future. Just like our family enjoys the beauty of landscaping, gardens, trees, ponds, flowers and so on which are part the flood prevention, so too can organisations (and those we seek to serve) benefit from good privacy, protection, portability, security and so on.

And yes, establishing responsible data management, like flood prevention, can be messy and is not guaranteed 100%. But when done well can make our lives easier today even if we never need to deal with negative event.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Chris Gallagher

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