Nuts, Bolts, and Digital Governance

by | Feb 1, 2023 | ICT4D |

nuts and bolts

In Canada, you can go to one hardware store and buy a bolt and go to different hardware store and buy nuts. The bolt and nut do not even need to be made by the same manufacturer and yet they work together if they are the same size. (And if they are both metric or both imperial in sizing.). They work together because of quality standards that govern the manufacturing of bolts.

Governance sets the standards, the specifications to meet. Governance sometimes can ‘approve’ or provide ‘certification’ that various tools or companies meet their standards and specifications. However, governance is not about picking one tool or company to be the only supplier or even the ‘preferred partner’.

Often in the digital humanitarian space we confuse this. We confuse governance and supply chain or procurement. Especially when multiple agencies are involved.

Governance can help us set the standards regarding what minimum datasets to collect and the structure of that data. It can help us set data protection, privacy and security standards to adhere to. Governance can help us set rules about access, owevership, control, disputes, and so on. But governance is not about choosing one digital solution for everyone to use. What digital solution, which meets the agreed governance specifications, to use is the up to each agency.

In many ways, the data we collect is like the nuts and bolts in hardware stores. We can have different hardware stores (agencies) and different manufacturers (digital solutions), and still the data can work together. If we would take the time, energy and resources we use arguing over which digital solution to use and turn those resources to establishing governance, we would take a giant leap forward.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Edge2Edge Media

1 Comment

  1. Harminder Singh

    That’s a great metaphor


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