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data citizen

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A data citizen is an employee who relies on digital information to make business decisions and perform job responsibilities.

In the early days of computing, it took a specialist with a strong background in data science to mine structured data for information. Today, business intelligence (BI) tools allow employees at every level of an organization to run ad hoc reports on the fly. Changes in how data can be analyzed and visualized allow workers who have no background in mathematics, statistics or programming be able to make data-driven decisions.

In both a government and data context, however, citizenship comes with responsibilities as well as rights. For example, a citizen who has been granted the right of free speech also has the responsibility to obey federal, state and local laws -- and an employee who has been granted the right to access corporate data also has a responsibility to support the company's data governance policies.

As data citizens increasingly expect more transparent, accessible and trustworthy data from their employers, it has become more important than ever for the rights and responsibilities of both parties to be defined and enforced through policy. To that end, data governance initiatives generally focus on high-level policies and procedures, while data stewardship initiatives focus on maintaining agreed-upon data definitions and formats, identifying data quality issues and ensuring that business users adhere to specified standards.

In addition to enforcing the data citizen's right to easily access trustworthy data, governance controls ensure that data is used in a consistent manner across the enterprise. To support ongoing compliance with external government regulations, as well as internal data policies, audit procedures should also be included in the controls.

This was last updated in October 2017

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How does your organization manage the conflict between the rights of individuals to data privacy vs. the rights of data citizens to do their jobs?
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