Personal data and emergencies

The data are necessary to address emergency situations, like local, national or global emergencies. There are rules to make them accessible with the necessary legal, organizational and technical safeguards.

Personal data and Emergencies

At the time of performing of the data collection, and specially, personal data, it should be considered that not all data will be useful in an emergency. We should choose the relevant and appropriate data categories for the problem, and employs only data with quality, reliable and checked. This subset of data with a real value is referred to as “information”.

Where information is available, we can increase our knowledge. Knowledge does not come spontaneously from the information. It is built over a ‘preliminary knowledge’ of an expert in the environment, structure and mechanisms to solve the problem.

Knowledge is necessary to take the proper decisions. But in order to adopt effective decisions, at least three elements are needed:  the determination to be taken, the power to implement them and to choose the time to execute them. The decisions taken by a person who do not have the competence to execute them, do not serve any purpose. The willingness to take the decision may be influenced by a multitude of constraints external to the problem itself, and a correct decision will be ineffective if it is taken in a wrong moment.

Once the decision is taken it is necessary to effectively implement it. The effective implementation of a concrete decision requires the existence of resources (human and material) as well as the availability of a management system to organize them. Resources must be available in time, receive the appropriate knowledge, and give feedback about the consequences. To take decisions without having resources or without the capacity to manage them, is useless. A proper management needs planning to harmonize resources and actions and make them truly effective.

Finally, It is necessary to assess objectively if the benefits resulting from an action would lead to real improvements, if the employed resources and social stress have a compensation, and if the objectives could have been achieved by using other means more efficient.

Therefore, in order to determine which data is necessary to take up in an emergency, the first step is to define an optimal action plan, evaluating its effectiveness in comparison with other possible options. This selection must be based on objective parameters of effectiveness and efficiency considering the resources and capacity of management available. This plan must be steered by the body with the will and competence to execute it, supported by those who can obtain and transmit the knowledge that can be acquired with the necessary information.

The massive and indiscriminate collection of personal data violates the principles of necessity and proportionality. It makes noise and attacks the citizens’ rights and freedoms.  There is a risk that such data will end up in a third party that having a good plan, resources and initiative, it could use them against us.


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