#NICVAPeople - a minute with Bob Harper

The third #NICVAPeople interview is with Bob Harper.

Job Title

Data Development Coordinator.

How would you explain what you do every day?

Since I started in this job, the GDPR changes to data protection have been a big challenge facing the sector, so I've been giving advice to organisations, developing the guidance resources in the Data Protection Toolkit, and delivering training and workshops to community and voluntary organisations.

I also look after our own data governance efforts, which is to say that I make sure that we're managing our data effectively and improving the quality and use of our own information.

Aside from that, there's development and user support for CommunityNI.org and this very website.

How long have you been with NICVA and what did you do before?

I've been NICVA since the start of 2014, but I've had a couple of different roles here. I worked in the Centre for Economic Empowerment when I first started, and then the Detail Data project. And after that I worked for a data consultancy cooperative before I came back here in 2018.

In my life before NICVA I worked at the Assembly, both in Hansard and the Public Finance Scrutiny Unit. So I've moved about a bit, but I've managed to adapt from economics to data in that time!

What are you working on right now and how will it impact the wider sector?

After the period of minor peril that was GDPR, we're turning our focus to look at better data governance — both here at NICVA as we develop a Data Management Strategy, and looking at how we can best guide and support the sector to ensure it has access to good quality and useable data for decision-making, as well as addressing defiences in information security.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of working at NICVA?

It's great to be part of a great team and an organisationn that provides a wide-range of support to the important work of our sector. That's perhaps why I've managed to have so many roles here, and why I came back this year!

I've also enjoyed delivering training sessions, which has been a new experience for me.

If you had to pick just one thing to change about the sector in Northern Ireland what would it be and why?

It would be to see it be more influential in technological change. While catchy buzzwords like AI, tech for good, blockchain and internet of things get thrown about, there's a risk that charities won't have a part to play in delivering on social innovation if they can't invest in digital solutions. Geoff Mulgan (Nesta Chief Exec) put it well recently: charities are 'bystanders' to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

What’s the last app you downloaded?

With the danger of making myself look like a privacy nut, I downloaded Brave for the phone, which is an open-source browser that blocks ads and website trackers.

Last holiday you took?

Athens, but sorry to say it was a year and a half ago!

Favourite blog?

I check The Register most days for a bit of tech news, but mainly for the headlines which are top quality.

If you want to keep up to date with tech in the sector, Charity Digital News, Tech for Good HubCAST and Third Sector Digital are newsletters you should sign up for.

What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to get into the world of data and digital?

There are masses of free online learning courses out there which you can find through Class Central.

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