Creating and managing a data sharing protocol depends on effective systems to store, access and manage the data.
In the community-based forest monitoring project in Guyana, the monitoring data sets were managed locally (by communities) and externally (by facilitators). All data collected (in GIS, Excel or Smap) was stored in the cloud (Dropbox) and in hard drives (e.g. computer discs) for external and local access. An audit log of all data was created and continuously updated to keep track of information flows and storage, in order for communities to be aware of where the data was. A local project management team led the whole process, after taking part in a two-year technical capacity building programme.
Although the use of cloud-storage was very useful for data sharing and data management, it was dependent on internet connectivity, and more importantly, it was a new concept for local project members. This created challenges for fostering community ownership and empowerment. Therefore, key elements of the training and capacity-building were understanding each tool, and using and accessing the system without external support.
Local capacity needs to be built so that data is managed in a way that ensures that communities retain control of their knowledge and data.