I’ve had some brief and rich conversations since my arrival here around responsible data. It’s an incredibly expansive realm which touches our lives. The lenses and hats that we all wear shape the way we may view the issues and challenges that lie ahead. Below is a snapshot of responsible data during one day earlier this week.
Morning: On my walk to the tram yesterday responsible data conversations resurfaced in my mind – the role of policies and guidelines; how much they are needed in the humanitarian data space; how the road to implementation is on the near and far horizons. Face to face conversations mean so much when taking about what policy means in these settings for me, policy is somewhat a realm of abstraction and having these conversations helps me envision the lines to practice.
Mid-day: During a lunch with colleagues we shared questions and learned from one another about some important acronyms (and jargon to be honest) such as DII, PII, and CII. For new learners and even “experienced” folks, these terms are often new, evolving and being revised. The conversations we had were filled with perspectives, opinions and a few examples; all rich discussion that enriched our understanding of personally identifiable information (PII), demographically identifiable information (DII), and community identifiable information (CII).
One example I shared was requests I received when I was in an operational field-based role in Haiti. I was asked to share photographs and other personally identifiable information of unaccompanied minors to a collaborating agency with a mission to support this vulnerable group. I shared privately the challenges I faced, the decisions I had to make, and the actions that were taken (or not taken) to address this difficult moment. I hoped that this one example was a snippet of the arc of information to decision making through the lens of responsible data. One that would expand their knowledge continuum to recognize that these issues are not only pressing, but can be deeply personal for practitioners, and not new. (More on this one day in a future blog post). And that these current efforts for policies, implementation guidelines, literacy training and more –> are essential to our work and progress that lies ahead. We should continually rework this idea — principles/ policy as an integral part of the arc of information to decision making.
Evening: I jumped onto a faculty conference call that evening, placing my emergency medicine physician hat back on as the sun slowly setted that evening in the Hague. I listened in to a hospital administrator say
“this is near and dear to you all, you live it every day”
And she was referencing the act, refection and practice of responsible data and information sharing in the daily work that we do in the emergency department. She walked our department through the information sharing privacies policies, of health information in the work space. This incorporated face to face communications, computer logins, patient, family requests for information, and even doctors accessing information related to patients who where family and friends. It also included a highlight of specific overarching organizational policies that were being updated which we are held accountable to.
The “live it every day” meant to me that in this role as “ER docs” , family members, and advocates for patients – we live in and act on complex arcs of information sharing. These are often high risk actions, pressing moments, which can be emotional. Nonetheless there are both emotions and tactical requests for information and data sharing. All within a highly pressured, uncertain and highly accountable environment. Not only do the principles of the hippocratic oath apply but the policies of our hospital insitution. How we practice this near and dear art and live it every day is doable and dynamic, It is supported by a set of principles, oaths, policies, and trainings. And that was part of this session, ongoing training on responsible data practices in emergency medicine, where we take multiple arcs of information to decision making in crisis situations but work hard to adhere to them both in policy and practice.