Link Search Menu Expand Document
Mobile Data Collection toolbox

11 Retaining - Archiving - Disposing of your data

image info

When the project ends or funds shift, what happens to the collected data? Retaining, archiving and deleting practices are directly linked to securing the data and the project. They are an important part of responsible data management. There may be internal guidelines in your organization on how to retain, dispose of or archive your data. In this section we have attempted to provide some generic and non-exhaustive guidelines applicable to a MDC project.

As with sharing practices, when retaining, archiving or deleting, you should stick to the consent: what was clearly consented to? For example, did the consent scenario mention a retention period? In addition, identifying sensitive data is essential to determine how long you will keep it, how you will transfer it, where you will store it and how you will secure access to it. Your analysis plan will also be useful in determining how long your data will be needed. In addition, be aware that sometimes there are legal requirements.

Once you have this information, the first thing you need to do is a data map to find out where the data actually is and who has access to it. Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples for Mobile Data collection:

Stage of data cycle Storage (device, server, etc.) Users/Access Questions
  • Mobile phone (in the app ODK for example)
  • Paper
  • Are the completed forms sent and deleted from phones?
  • Is there any sensitive data?
Collection Online server (KoBoToolbox, etc.) How much time will the data remain on this server?
Collection Exported raw data in other hardware or software: Online server; Cloud; Local computer; etc.
  • Is there any sensitive data? Does the access need to be secure?
  • Does the exportation need encryption?
  • If your store on the cloud and/or online server, where are the data center located?
Cleaning, Analysis Local computer (use of excel, powerBI, etc.) and/or Online server (use of Google Sheet, etc.) Data analyst How many data files have been created for analysis purposes and are they all stored in one place?
Transfer, Analysis Means of data sharing online (mail, etc.) or offline (usb key, etc.) External data analyzer, etc.
  • Do you have a list of what data has been transferred to whom?
  • Is there any sensitive data ? Does the access need to be secured? Do you need to anonymize data?
Sharing Online server (HDX, etc.) or website Public, …
  • Do you share raw data or just a dashboard? Do you share all the data set or only some indicators?
  • Is there sensitive data? Does the access needs to be secured? Do you need anonymization?
  • How long will it remain available online?
RAD Every storage used
  • Do you need to keep this data longer? Will this data be relevant, used or needed in the future? For how long?
  • Do you need to keep only some indicators, some anonymous data or all data?

The second step is to determine which data are retained and for how long, which data are archived and which can be deleted, and to do it properly. Depending on the type and purpose of the data, one option may be more relevant and appropriate. Think in particular about personal or sensitive data. Below are some notes on each option:

Retain, hold, keep Archive Delete, discard, dispose
For how long ? Choose a proper storage Make sure you have deleted it on each storage device
Manage and/or restrict access (take into account the presence of personal or sensitive data) Manage and/or restrict access (take into account the presence of personal or sensitive data) Be aware that sometimes, when a file is deleted, it can still be recovered (in the computer’s recycle bin, for example).
Choose a proper storage device

Last but not least, you can create a RAD calendar for the data collected during your MDC and implement it. Please see these tips on how to keep, archive and dispose of data responsibly.