The GovLab, UNICEF Host Webinar on Using Tools to Realize Responsible Data for Children
This piece was originally published on the Responsible Data for Children’s blog. To learn more about the ways this initiative is fostering the responsible use of data for and about children, visit its site.
On 8 March 2022, the Responsible Data for Children (RD4C) team — a collaboration between The GovLab and UNICEF — hosted a special 75-minute webinar on the RD4C principles and tools meant to enable the responsible handling of data for and about children. Led by The GovLab’s Stefaan Verhulst and Andrew J. Zahuranec and UNICEF’s Eugenia Olliaro and Robert MacTavish, attendees included practitioners from UNICEF, its partners, along with academics working on issues related to children’s data protection.
Over the course of the session, participants learned in-depth information about how the RD4C tools can help them in the areas they work.
The webinar began with an explanation the Responsible Data for Children initiative hopes to achieve. Focusing on the eight reasons why responsible data for children matters, Stefaan discussed why child welfare advocates should pay attention to data. He described how children are at the forefront of datafication, the fact that children have less agency, that data violations can result in lifelong loss of trust, and other issues.
Eugenia subsequently explained the role that the RD4C principles — participatory, professionally accountable, people-centric, prevention of harms across the data lifecycle, proportional, protective of children’s rights, and purpose-driven — could play in addressing these challenges. Developed through a review of literature and case studies, the principles steer the user toward best practices on responsible data handling for children.
Following this initial stage-setting, Andrew and Stefaan introduced the different RD4C tools, which seek to operationalize the principles in an user-centric manner, and explained how they could be used. In particular, they discussed:
- The RD4C Data Ecosystem Mapping Tool, which intends to help users to identify the systems generating data about children and the key components of those systems.
- The RD4C Decision Provenance Mapping, intended to provide a way for actors designing or assessing data investments for children to identify key decision points and determine which internal and external parties influence those decision points.
- The Ethical Assessment — Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF, that “forms part of our safe data ecosystem, alongside data management and data protection policies and practices.”
- The RD4C Opportunity and Risk Diagnostic; which provides organizations with a way to take stock of the RD4C principles and how they might be realized as an organization reviews a data project or system.
- The 22 Questions to Assess Responsible Data for Children, used for rapidly assessing initiatives or systems that handle data for and about children against the RD4C Principles.
In the final 30 minutes, Alessandra Fassio of Data for Children Collaborative with UNICEF shared with participants how her institution has used RD4C tools to support its work, allowing participants to see how the tools are operationalized in a specific context.
The event closed with a question and answer session moderated by Robert, during which the RD4C team emphasized the importance of supporting broader collaboration on data responsibility and child welfare issues. The team invited attendees to share their work and experiences.
If you work in these areas and would like to share your experience and learning, we would be delighted to host a guest blog featuring your best practices. Furthermore, we are hoping to encourage greater awareness of the various resources and research that exist in the field by expanding our Selected Readings page. If either of these items interest you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you who would like to view the webinar, a recording is now available on our YouTube page.