Tech

“Data Measurement” – when you are asked to enter data instead of money

Fundraising is a part of everyday life, both online and offline.

Requests for financial contributions come by mail, email, social media and message. Cashier at chain stores and supermarkets ask you if you want to participate for charitable purposes. If you are in the US, you may also receive near-constant messages asking you to contribute to political campaigns.

In my book”How we deliver now, “I explore ways to act on giving beyond giving money to nonprofits, including an exciting growing trend I call”database. “It’s a term I coined when I wrote a book to describe it non-profit organizations or researchers calling for data donations.

Perhaps surprisingly, data mining is not entirely new. For example, medical research has long relied on volunteers participating in clinical trials to collect enough data to study a disease.

The steps to join a clinical trial – sign up, learn the protocols, agree to contribute your data – were developed to limit the harm that could happen when researchers only took the data. of everyone. These protocols, not as perfect as they are, distinguish informed data contributions from the usual online data experience, in which companies’ terms of service give them broad claims to data while leaving individual users with some choice and even less recourse.

There are apps for this

One reason for the growth of the database is that it is becoming easier to implement for technological reasons.

Example: Apple launched Research Toolkit in 2015. It’s a set of software protocols that allow medical researchers to design studies using data directly from a person’s iPhone.

To participate in a phone-based study, people download an app for a study. The best studies use the usual non-legal consent process with one of the “I Agree” buttons at the bottom. Instead, these consent processes require people to use their phones in ways that will only produce the specific data the researchers are collecting.

For example, the consent process for a Parkinson’s disease study might require you to swipe your finger across the screen, then put your phone in your pocket and walk across the room. These actions produce data showing signs of hand tremors and movement.

ONE Industry Research on Mobile Health Apps 2021 has counted more than 1,500 research projects based on digital health data with ResearchKit up to that point.

Android users can also participate in similar studies using Google Health Research App, launching in 2020.

Some apps for birds

But data donations are facilitated by the power of technology rather than just medical research.

Apps like eBird, run by the Cornell University Entomology Laboratory, and iNaturalist, a partnership between National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences, relies on donations of cell phone photographs to power their biodiversity database.

Administrative science initiatives, also known as citizen science initiative, supports everything from water quality screen to number of butterflies. These initiatives are based on contributed data, as are many genealogy website.

Databases also make it easier to document the histories of specific communities.

Eg, Densho . Archives, an online archive of historical artifacts related to the American internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, containing donated photographs, letters, and articles.

Other forces driving this trend

Legal changes, organizational renewal, social movements and increased attention to the harms of centralized data also played a role in spreading this practice.

In the UK, ride-sharing drivers can contribute their data to Exchange of worker information. Called WIX, it uses aggregated, analyzed information to protect workers’ rights and fight “shoot robot“—when companies design algorithms that automatically fire workers without human involvement.

Organizations like WIX depend on everyone having access to their data, a right guaranteed by European Union and in California through the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Help solve annoying problems

As digital systems become more important to everyday life, donated data can help answer more types of questions.

Consumer advocacy organization Consumer Reports are collecting data by collecting Cable TV bills. This data will help the team’s executives evaluate the company’s claims about broadband speeds, accessibility, and pricing.

Mozilla, the non-profit maker of the Firefox browser, has launched a browser plug-in called Rally. It makes it easy to share data over the internet with academic researchers.

And Health News Kaiser and National public radio station cooperated to conduct”Invoice of the month“Investigations. Through this partnership, news agency journalists are analyzing and reporting on hidden charges and mysterious charges being rife in the US health system.

When data collection is difficult

The easier it is to collect data from anyone, the more important it becomes to plan for troublemakers, giving people the tools to control their information and ensuring that participants They treat each other with respect.

For example, the iNaturalist app is used in a lot of classrooms and students love to play pranks, tagging their classmates as bugs or snakes. Because it is used globally, cultural and linguistic competence is key. What seems interesting in one context may be deeply offensive in another.

Digital data is shared through online networks – especially those dedicated to public goods – requires careful attention to protect the safety of participants. For example, people might want to donate data about how far they’ve walked, but not where they’ve been. While the phone’s default settings may make it easiest to transfer location data and let researchers calculate walking distances, to place a high priority on user safety, The app can calculate the distance on the phone without transmitting someone’s location.

It is important to want equitable access to those who wish to contribute their data for these purposes, which is difficult since not everyone owns a smartphone. And I believe that people who participate in these studies should give meaningful and withdrawable consent at any time.

Over the years, the participants citizen science movement created resources and manuals to promote good data governance and limit harassment by those involved in these efforts. Their goal is to enable equal participation, prioritize data security, and allow individuals to control their data. In some cases, it is important to protect the identities of data contributors.

There are dedicated community managers and training levels available to iNaturalist users, along with Rules for Managers its website manager for example.

Such voluntary practices are valuable. But in my opinion, data donation should be specified. There are many experts with professional experience and living in the fields of online harm, data rights, community building, and philanthropy to inform those efforts.

Lucy Bernholz, Charity and Civil Society Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University

This article was republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

https://www.salon.com/2022/01/08/dataraising–when-youre-asked-to-chip-in-with-data-instead-of-money_partner/ “Data Measurement” – when you are asked to enter data instead of money

Caroline Bleakley

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