Fatima: An Ethically-Driven Approach to Your Data Collection and Research Needs

A record 110 million people now require humanitarian assistance, as highlighted in the UNHCR’s Global Trends report released in June 2023. Understanding their challenges is crucial, yet the process of managing their data — collection, storage, and usage — has grown increasingly complex and fraught with risks.

Digital advancements, while streamlining data collection, also introduce significant privacy, consent, and security concerns. Vulnerable groups, including refugees and those affected by disasters, are particularly at risk of privacy breaches, security threats, exploitation, loss of trust, power imbalances and the challenge of ensuring informed consent - all of which can undermine the effectiveness of aid delivery.

These issues are exacerbated by evolving data protection laws, the need for cross-organisational data sharing, and emerging cybersecurity threats. Humanitarian researchers are consistently under pressure to meet the conflicting priorities of speed, tight budgets, and adherence to sixty-page ethical data policies.

Safeguarding notes & Readiness checklist

Fatima: Ethically-Driven Approach to Research

Enter Fatima – Here I Am's research platform, founded in partnership with CARE, to rapidly and ethically connect with individuals anywhere, regardless of the circumstances. Fatima’s mission is to ensure that best-in-class ethical research standards are met, no matter the location, timeline, budget or experience of the team making it happen.

Through ethical design, comprising simple and salient prompts and advice every step of the way, Fatima guides and supports researchers of all levels of experience to adhere to ethical practice - from data collection to data destruction.

For example, Fatima’s informed consent process makes it clear and easy for participants and interviewers alike by breaking consent information into bite-sized pieces throughout the process, and regaining consent post-interview. Participants also have the option to remove individual answers, and only submit the responses they are comfortable with.

A pre-interview safe space assessment helps to ensure respondents are in a quiet safe space, and if anything is raised during an interview that requires a safeguarding review, responses can be flagged either during or after an interview.

Interviews can be paused, stopped and restarted at any time, should the participant need a break, or to move location, and Fatima closes the loop of consent, by ensuring all researchers using the data are fully aware of the consent commitments made.

All data is encrypted at rest and during transfer, and data is automatically deleted from any device as soon as it syncs with the cloud. Fatima is penetration tested to minimise data hacking vulnerabilities.

Fatima Reaches Anyone, Anywhere

Fatima aims to reach people regardless of their access to technology or location with both in-person and remote options for survey participation.

Crucially, respondents require neither an internet connection nor a smartphone. This ensures that even the most hard-to-reach individuals can be contacted without facing technological barriers, and at no cost to them.

In-person interviews can be facilitated using the Fatima mobile app and are often carried out by peer researchers on-the-ground. When this isn’t possible, remote interviews can be conducted via a simple phone call to the respondent’s chosen device using Fatima’s secure platform, which ‘calls’ the respondent from a pre-agreed number.

Researchers have the flexibility to opt for a remote or in-person approach—or a mix of both—depending on their goals, available resources, and perceived risks. Regardless of the route taken, using Fatima ensures that the safety and wellbeing of all involved is the top priority.

Translation & Probing questions

Fatima is Simple and Easy to Use

Fatima’s survey-builder makes gathering research and adhering to ethical research practices easier than ever before. It offers a range of interview question formats, including audio and photo, to collect both qualitative and quantitative answers.

Researchers also have the benefit of the ‘probing questions’ feature, which allows the interviewer to ask off-the-cuff questions and have greater autonomy over the interview, as well as the ability to add notes and tags within the tool to help with analysis and more nuanced surveys.

Ensuring accessibility to diverse communities also entails working with multiple languages. To address this challenge, Fatima incorporates an automated and rapid transcription and translation feature, greatly speeding up the survey to analysis process.

Use Fatima for Your Next Research Project

Fatima is launching today and you can sign up for a free trial at HelloFatima.

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