11 Common Data Risks

by | Jan 26, 2022 | ICT4D |


Digital transformation and using data is common place in many of our projects.  Digital and data provide significant opportunities for us to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement of our project, which is exciting.  However, while every opportunity can be used for positive impact, they also come with the potential for harm. 

Here are 11 common risks to look for:

  1. Data collected but not used or needed – Extra data comes with additional liability for both the organisation and the beneficiaries, not to mention the waste of time and resources for everyone involved.
  2. Incomplete Data – Incomplete data about communities or individuals can lead to representation or selection bias
  3. Poor Quality Data – Inaccurate, not up to date, or irrelevant data can cause an incorrect operational decision, create a certain bias, or deprive certain groups of critical aid. 
  4. Data Scope Creep/Misuse – Data used for something other than purpose collected
  5. Beneficiaries Exposure – sensitive data should only be collected in exceptional circumstances 
  6. Data Leakage or Breach – it happens, even to the most diligent organisations
  7. Re-identification – Anonymised datasets can be combined with other datasets to re-identify beneficiaries
  8. Access – Access to data opens up the possibility of harm and increased risk of inappropriate use.
  9. Beneficiaries Informed Consent – this rarely happens because of the power differential and the lack of awareness of why data is being collected
  10. Data flow – where does your data travel
  11. Algorithms – not understanding them

Photo by Lubo Minar


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