Data philanthropy (as defined in Robert Kirkpatrick’s seminal post) was very much on the minds of participants at the data dive that we organized last week in Vienna, courtesy of KDZ and the Open Knowledge Foundation – Austrian chapter.
If we want to tackle questions such as the real time measurement of poverty, many argued, we need to get ahold of currently closed high frequency sources (from sensors to social and customer data) and this will most likely require companies to open up – at least in part – some of their data assets (incidentally, data philantrophy was also on display at the event, with QCRI and Text to Change making available some of their datasets for data scientists to delve into… kudos!).
There seemed to be a broad consensus that corporate data philanthropy was going to become the norm soon – with some participants suggesting that open data should become an indicator for corporate social responsibility (and perhaps a requirement to bid successfully, say, on international development organization contracts?).
But the conversation also took a more unexpected twist when the “data divers” mentioned the growing willingness of individuals to ‘donate’ personal data for the public good:
- Could this be a promising venue to explore for development organizations?
- Should we start a “donate your data” campaign targeting individuals, rather than corporations? Is some type of individual data likely to be more useful/practical to start with?
- Should we perhaps steal a page from the corporate book and follow the example of, say, companies like Fitbit that encourage individuals to share their health data? And what about the Quantified Self movement: a potential ally?
- Or is a more appropriate role for us to push for policy change so that we can have open, collaborative trust frameworks between individuals, governments and companies that would encourage the (willing) sharing of personal data?
Of course, this approach raises a whole range of questions and challenges – from privacy to prior informed consent, all the way to personal safety and security.
The World Economic Forum’s report and work on rethinking personal data (balancing growth and protection) will hopefully shed some light on some of these thorny issues.
The debate will no doubt continue at the next data dive in Washington DC on from 15 to 17 March.
In the meantime, we would still love to hear from you:
Would you give up your personal data for development?
In other words, given the appropriate checks and balances, would you like to be given the option to make some of your data public, should this help develop better policies? And what would you share?