Entrepreneur in residence: Gather
Gather are going to create a one-click tool that allows any decision maker (regardless of data literacy) to understand the availability, accessibility and accuracy of publicly available sanitation data for their country. They will be focusing on the fifty countries at the end of the UN Humanitarian Development Index and be assessing the data in line with ODI’s Data Ethics Canvas.
Tell us more about your project
2.5 billion people live in cities without access to a working toilet. The sanitation data gap is hindering decision makers from understanding how and where they need to invest in sanitation infrastructure and services for low income communities.
This project is about understanding what public location data has already been collected for fifty countries, and then making it accessible for decision makers regardless of their data literacy. This project will investigate the ethical questions about public data and contribute to the conversation on the collection, sharing and use of sanitation data for ending the global sanitation crisis.
What was the motivation behind your project? Why did you choose the focus you did?
Gather has been working to close the sanitation data gap for four years. When we first launched we met with over 100 decision makers from across academia, government and industry. All of them shared the impact that the lack of good, actionable data was having on their work. As we dug deeper, we found that a lot of data was collected but that there has been no standardisation in the way it is collected, managed, shared or analysed.
The data burden tends falls on a lot of organisations who are not equipped or resourced to build data teams. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme is a fantastic resource on government approved sanitation data, but it can prove difficult to navigate, interpret and apply at the local level.
What do you hope to achieve during your time as an Entrepreneur in Residence with the Benchmark Initiative?
We hope that the tool will be a conversation starter that leads to action. We want to see more people and organisations talking about the ethical dimension of the location data that they collect, and we want to see more action about how we can work together to produce better sanitation data that is accessible for decision makers.
One of our core values at Gather is collaboration. We are excited to learn from the team at ODI who developed the Data Ethics Canvas, and to receive support from the Benchmark team as we start this work.
What do you hope to do with your project after the completion of the residency?
We plan to share the tool at sanitation conferences and summits throughout the year and engage decision-makers to help us identify avenues to develop the tool to increase its usefulness. We would like to expand the number of focus countries and start to take a look at non-publicly available sanitation data.
What do you think is the single biggest issue facing industry, government and the public when it comes to responsible data use?
Until recently, it has been leadership. It is encouraging to see different organisations and initiatives start to explore the implications and impact of irresponsible data use (even when unintentional) and create frameworks for industry, government and the public to jointly own and buy into.
To get to know the team a bit more, Cofounder John Peter answers the question: which three celebrities/historical figures would you invite to a dinner party, and why?!
- Harriet Tubman, to hear her stories from the underground railroad
- Adele, because she could give us a preview of her upcoming album
- Whoopi Goldberg, because anyone who has been in Sister Act and Star Trek gets a free meal from me.