What is the biggest challenge for digital civil society?
BECKY BAND JAIN: Working in the field of humanitarian data, one of the biggest challenges we face is the gaps in the availability of accurate, up-to-date data. Other closely related challenges include ensuring that this data is shared responsibly—especially sensitive data—as well as the data literacy abilities of humanitarians to make better decisions to improve the lives of people caught in crisis.
What is your organization doing to meet this challenge?
BECKY BAND JAIN: Our Data Grids show what critical data is both missing and available so that we can all be more focused with our data sharing and outreach. Our annual State of Humanitarian Data Report (the next report will be released in January 2021) goes into even more detail on what is required to understand crises more effectively. Overall, we work closely with organizations to share their data and urge organizations who haven’t already joined the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) to do so. To address the challenge of responsible data sharing in humanitarian settings, we work with country offices on information sharing protocols and produce guidance to inform practitioners, and we are developing a secure technical infrastructure and service model to improve how we support partners in processing sensitive data before sharing the data via HDX. Regarding data literacy, while COVID-19 disrupted our planned training, we’ve shifted to providing remote support for humanitarians to build their data skills.
What excites you most about what others in the social sector/civil society are doing to meet this challenge?
BECKY BAND JAIN: Our partners in the humanitarian sector are pushing the envelope in terms of innovation around data and technology, in order to create efficiencies in a larger system which ultimately can save lives. It’s wonderful to collaborate with partners in the HDX Community who are dedicated to ensuring that aid is delivered to the right place at the right time for the people who most need it.