News and developments from RD4C


Posted on 2nd of August 2021 by The Govlab


What is RD4C?

The Responsible Data for Children (RD4C) initiative is a project seeking to build awareness for how data affects and is affected by children in an age of increasingly ubiquitous technology and data (re)use. Through case studies, reports, and tools, it seeks to provide a way for those who work with data about and for children to put the best interests of children at the center of their data use and reuse activities.

Why create RD4C? 

Humanitarian and development actors working with children rely increasingly on a wide range of technologies. These tools—which include biometrics, digital identity systems, remote-sensing technologies, mobile and social media messaging apps, and administrative data systems—and the data they create can provide opportunities to better serve children in certain contexts. However, they also generate risks. Data can be mishandled. It can be used in a way that ignores the needs and desires of their communities. It can lead to policies that exacerbate existing inequities and vulnerabilities.

We created this initiative to encourage responsible approaches to data management and spark a larger conversation about appropriate data use and reuse. 

The work is intended to address practical considerations across the data lifecycle, including routine data collection and one-off data collections; and compliments work on related topics being addressed by the development community such as guidance on specific data systems and technologies, technical standardization, and digital engagement strategies.

What does RD4C provide?

RD4C highlights and supports best practices by producing a variety of deliverables and products meant for both professionals in the field and senior decision-makers. These documents include:

  • Principles: a set of actionable concepts, derived from desk and field research, that we recommend rights-based organizations working with children’s data adopt;
  • Tools: a light and user-friendly way for organizations and practitioners to operationalize the RD4C Principles in the spaces they work;
  • Blogs: short pieces from the RD4C team and practitioners in the field explaining some issue or project
  • Case Studies: short analysis of real-world projects that provide some insight into the opportunities and challenges in realizing responsible data for children. These case studies analyze data streams deployed in countries around the world;
  • Reports: long-form analyses that synthesize key findings and recommendations from desk and field research. These documents aim to provide actionable insights from research conducted to support UNICEF and all rights-based organizations working with children’s data;
  • Selected Readings: collections of relevant publications and peer-reviewed research that describe how organizations can realize data’s potential to innovate and improve service delivery for children without compromising their needs or trust.

How does RD4C work?

RD4C seeks to engage with actors in the field as well as those that have experience and expertise in data governance to capture and provide lessons learned on how data about and for children can be leveraged responsibly.

What is the geographic focus?

RD4C has a global focus and can be used anywhere where an organization is using data about and for children. Case studies and other products focus heavily on those areas where UNICEF and its direct counterparts work.

Who can benefit from this work?

While the research that it summarizes focused heavily on UNICEF and its direct counterparts, all RD4C products are shared widely to support all those seeking to promote responsible data practices for and about children and initiate a broader conversation around these issues. Our deliverables can be used by governments, communities,  academics, and development practitioners. They contain insights useful both to senior decision-makers and professionals in the field.

Who is involved?

RD4C is a joint endeavor between UNICEF and The GovLab at New York University.

UNICEF is a UN agency that works in the world’s toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we do whatever it takes to help children survive, thrive and fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence. 

The Governance Lab (The GovLab) is an action research center at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. Our goal is to strengthen the ability of institutions — including but not limited to governments — and people to work more openly, collaboratively, effectively, and legitimately to make better decisions and solve public problems. We believe that increased availability and use of data, new ways to leverage the capacity, intelligence, and expertise of people in the problem-solving process, combined with new advances in technology and science, can transform governance. We approach each challenge and opportunity in an interdisciplinary, collaborative way, irrespective of the problem, sector, geography, and level of government. 

How do I stay up-to-date on the RD4C initiative?

We will share a variety of new resources related to this project throughout the year. You can receive regular updates on our work by signing up for our mailing list here.


Photo by Yusril Permana ali on Unsplash

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