The process of checking for duplicates is relatively easy. It’s a bit like the game of memory, in all its variations we play with our kids – does that frog on the log match this frog on the log. Yes? you get the pair. No? next person’s turn.
Making the game of memory is also quite simple – take a photo of something, make two copies, repeat, and off you go. Years ago, my Mom made a set of memory cards for me from an old Sears catalogue. The pictures were not identical, but it worked as there were two brown shoes, two frying pans, and so on.
Finding duplicates in the humanitarian space is also relatively easy…as long as the hard work is done first. The ‘code’ for comparing two files is not hard to write, it’s the getting the two files that is. Before being able to look for duplicates, we need to agree on what a duplicate is – are we looking at households or individuals? Are we looking at what assistance they received as well? Is the assistance that everyone is providing the same? If not, how will we compare?
This is the hard work that comes before any useful discussion about deduplication. Once this part of the process is agreed, we can move on to discussing how the information will be shared, with whom, how long will it be kept, what are all the legal agreements that need to be in place, and so on.
And then, we can get on with checking for duplicates. This step is the easy part. And then there are disputes, which is another complex process. But that’s for another day.