UNICEF is a global leader in the generation, analysis, and application of data to support efforts to develop national and international programs to improve the well-being of children and women. UNICEF recently produced the Data for Children Strategic Framework to help identify the core values and principles that should guide UNICEF future investments in data-driven processes and projects. Ethical Intelligence worked with the Data for Children Collaborative, a joint partnership between UNICEF, The Scottish Government and the University of Edinburgh’s Data Driven Innovation Programme, to conduct research into the ethical principles and ethical protocols that could be part of an ethical framework that is incorporated into the overall strategic framework and applied to new data initiatives.
Ethical Intelligence produced an ethical charter and protocol to be used by the Data for Children Collaborative on a project-by-project basis to analyze the ethical implications of the research and projects being conducted. The overaching goal of the Data for Children Collaborative is to develop and manage data-driven projects that leverage data science to improve outcomes for children. We began with a deep dive into the specific projects that are currently in development to understand the data lifecycle involved, the kinds of AI and ML techniques being used, and the role that the analytical outputs play in supporting the project goals.
Our team integrated a set of ethical principles that could guide the Data for Children Collaborative projects with the overarching values that guide all of UNICEF's work, and produced an ethical protocol for the use of data science and artificial intelligence in a model that aligns closely with UNICEF's core vision. Our work product included three primary deliverables, what we called the Compass, The Roadmap, and the Highway Code. The Compass distills the ethical framework that can guide UNICEF's data projects into simple ethical charter that acts as a reference point for ongoing work by the Data for Children Collaborative. The Roadmap is a more detailed exploration of the ethically informed processes that should be part of every project in order to ensure that the use of data and AI is consistent with UNICEF's core values, with the ethical best practices, and with the evolving regulatory requirements. Finally, the Highway Code is a document that takes a deeper look at particular ethical risks and challenges highlighted in the Roadmap that affect specific projects that are in development, as well as those that touch on issues that have unique challenges relating to the nature of UNICEF's mission, the vulnerability of many of it's constituents, and the international scope of UNICEF's work.
We concluded our project with an information session with the Data for Children Collaborative where we presented these documents and discussed potential modes of integrating the recommendations into current work, and identified the direction the ongoing efforts can take in order to ensure their projects have an evidence-based ethical direction that is aligned with UNICEF's values.