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Intro to the Responsible Data for Children Principles: People-Centric

Posted on 6th of July 2023 by Andrew Zahuranec

Intro to the Responsible Data for Children Principles: People-Centric
Intro to the Responsible Data for Children Principles: People-Centric

This blog is part of a running series from the Responsible Data for Children initiative highlighting each of the RD4C principles and real-life efforts to realize them. You can learn more about this series here.

Today’s blog looks at the importance of being people-centric, looking at how the Aurora Project in Romania pursued this principle in the design of their work and useful resources that you can use to operationalize this principle in your own work. 

What Does People-Centric Mean?

People-centric is about ensuring the needs and expectations of children, their caregivers, and their communities are prioritized by actors handling data for and about them.

Much of the data used for drawing insights to improve children’s lives involves or is generated by people. The insights from it have the potential to impact the lives of children in many ways, both positive and negative. Actors need to ensure the needs and expectations of people—especially children and their caregivers—receive priority.    

This kind of prioritization can happen in a few ways. A people-centric organization might seek support from trusted, local institutions and families themselves to develop an informed programme that answers children’s needs. A people-centric organization is one that aligns its efforts to meet children’s interests and shapes its programs in response to meaningful feedback from children and their caregivers. 

In the process of understanding and representing children’s needs, people-centric organizations also think about ways to communicate clearly, succinctly, and through channels that can be broadly reached. In the data collection phase, this can involve organizational staff phrasing questions in a way that is likely to be understood and resonate with the children, caregivers, and community groups  answering them.

In this way, being people-centric is meant to remind you and other organizations who it is you are serving and who ultimately the data comes from. Being people-centric is closely linked to the principle of Participatory, which focuses on engaging, informing, and involving individuals affected by the use of data for and about children.


How Have Others Pursued Being People-Centric?

One recent effort to be people-centric can be found in the Aurora Project developed by UNICEF Romania in collaboration with NGO and government partners. 

Aurora is a child protection platform that helps social workers and community health care providers to diagnose and monitor vulnerabilities experienced by children and their families. It provides users with a questionnaire that they can then use to ask children and their caregivers about their situation. Based on the responses, the system can then help them determine the services needed.

Aurora is people-centric in its ability to recognize the needs of both children and those delivering the surveys. Questions are simple and straight-forward and frontline workers using the system are guided through a clear process with regular signposts on how they should engage with children and others in the household. This allows them to gather relevant information in a way that is conducive to local norms and expectations and in a way that is clearly connected to a specific outcome—service delivery. 


What Resources Can I Use to Be People-Centric?

One useful tool in ensuring your organization can be people-centric is the 22 Questions. This short document provides a series of questions that can be used for rapidly assessing initiatives or systems that handle data for and about children using the RD4C Principles. It provides several recommendations that you can adopt to more clearly articulate your aims and methods or to ensure your work is understood by other parties.


We hope this blog has been useful to you in helping you understand what it means to be people-centric. Please return to our blog next week when we’ll discuss our next principle or subscribe for updates to the RD4C initiative by signing up to our mailing list here.

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