The Need for a Governance Mechanism
Inclusive governance is at the heart of OPAL. Since its inception, the project has identified the need for such a mechanism and the following core principles:
Ethics and solid governance mechanisms must lie at the heart of data projects to make them successful, sustainable, adopted, and therefore transformative.
Central to both OPAL’s pilots the development and deployment of a solid governance mechanism includes the setup of a CODE (Council for the Orientation for Development and Ethics).
The aim of the CODE will be to ensure the outcomes of OPAL are legal, fair, ethical and transparent. These local advisory boards will bring together local stakeholder communities and operate in an agile, scalable and lightweight manner.
The implementation of the CODEs at local level will leverage lessons learnt in terms of knowledge sharing and replicability.
They will be supplemented by and interact with a Global Strategic Board providing strategic inputs for the deployment of the project to other markets.
Participatory Design and Development
A critical element in the development of OPAL project, the participatory design approach allows key users, local partners, and industry experts to contribute throughout the entire process. On-site workshops and the inclusion of Friendly User Testers (FUTs) ensure local relevance, transparency, and trust.
During the pilot phase, OPAL users, or FUTs, represent a broad array of sectors. Through interviews with these FUTs, the OPAL team has identified their key questions and concerns. From this, a User Needs Synthesis Report (UNSR) was produced which in turn informed the preliminary design of the Minimum Viable Technology 1 (MVT1), currently in production.
Key insights gleaned from the UNSR include:
Product expectations and needs
Platform user experience
Governance expectations and needs
For additional information, please see the OPAL User Needs Report here.
The second core component of OPAL is the Development and Ethics Orientation Council (CODE). This council works to integrate and implement ethical practices and serves as an advisory board for guidance and dispute resolution, providing oversight to the project to ensure it abides by key ethical principles. Each local CODE is comprised of representatives from 10 local organizations, selected during the pilot phase by the OPAL EC. These representatives meet locally once per quarter, come together annually for a global CODE summit, and do not receive any form of remuneration.
The Role and Functions of the CODE
Act as the driving force of the creation, the function, and the application of the legal conditions of service governing the OPAL platforms and their users
Provide input and counsel on privacy-related issues addressing items such as the legitimate purpose in the use of algorithms, bias, legal compliance, authorization of output users and community engagement
Advise institutions using OPAL on sensitive uses cases and risks to intended communities
Function as a forum for dispute resolution or community complaints in the use of data
Advise on OPAL platform management in the development of a balanced and inclusive local data ecosystem
Support the platform setup
No development activity is sustainable nor transformative without capacity building as well as connections within the local ecosystems. As the third core component of OPAL, capacity building activities provide local partners and users with the critical skills necessary to utilize OPAL to its full potential. These activities include on-site training workshops, dedicated online resources on our online learning platform, CLANED, and access to a curated selection of relevant online courses and reference materials.
A techno-institutional innovation based on two components: governance and technology
An open platform and algorithms