Based on the idea of taking care of others’ assets and resources, the concept of stewardship extends to the responsible maintenance and management of data assets. Following this, data stewardship is about the long-term maintenance of data that safeguards diversity and authenticity as the data is held for future generations and managed based on their interests, not ours. On that basis, in order to gain and maintain public trust and confidence, stewards must be aware of the public understanding of their practices and solutions, and the extent to which their practices and solutions make the public vulnerable. In disaster risk management, the advent of Big Data, the increasing role social media play in disaster response and management, and the general impetus, across the EU but also globally, towards cross-border collaborations and hence the sharing of resources using complex technological structures, make the issue of data stewardship urgent but also technically and ethically challenging.

  • Maintain data in a way that safeguards diversity and authenticity 
  • Manage data for future generations, based on their interests, not yours
  • Be sensitive to both the short and the long-term implications of your data management practices


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Egan, M. J. (2011). The Normative Dimensions of Institutional Stewardship: High Reliability, Institutional Constancy, Public Trust and Confidence. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 19(1): 51–58. [DOI]  [Link]
Hartter, J, Ryan S.J., MacKenzie, C.A., Parker, J.N., Strasser, C.A. (2013) Spatially Explicit Data: Stewardship and Ethical Challenges in Science. PLoS Biol 11(9): e1001634 [DOI] [Link]
Jasanoff, S. (2010). Beyond calculation: A Democratic Response to Risk. In A. Lakoff (Ed.), Disaster and the politics of intervention (pp. 14–40). Columbia University Press.
Lynch, C., 2008. Big data: How do your data grow?. Nature, 455(7209): 28-29.
Palen, L., and Liu, S. (2007) Citizen Communications in Crisis: Anticipating a Future of ICT-Supported Public Participation. In Proceedings of the CHI 07, San Jose, CA.  [Link

Related Guidance

Responsibilities for Data

Goal Diversity

Decision Making

Ethical and Privacy Impact Assessment

Contextual Reasoning