It is good practice to establish a social baseline in a systematic way, with quality controls and the implementation of a Social Information Management System (IMS).
When data and metadata are not collected systematically and quality control and their respective metadata in a format which the data base can be accessed by different actors, the company cannot use them in the future or for all the « engagement activities « .
In addition, data are often forgotten for several years until monitoring is required.
This is why it is interesting to implement an information management system which one of its goal is to use the baseline data for different purposes, monitoring the progress of each of the matters (as health, education, number of complaints, complaints addressed, among others) in real-time or periodically.
It is important to visualize the social baseline from the beginning of the project. Many of the companies that collect baseline data do not have a mandate to assess the impact that an extractive project may have on daily life until its closure.
Benefits of implementing the Social Baseline in a social IMS
Some of the advantages of managing a social baseline study within an IMS for mining and oil & gas companies include the following:
- The quality of the data can be controlled in real time, and errors can be corrected quickly while technicians are still in the field. For example, automatic controls can ensure that each person has a valid identification number (especially in cases where there is some sort of compensation), that a person cannot appear in two or more families, and so on.
- The baseline data can be accessed, used, stored and reused easily by the company, and they can replicate the same methodology regardless the consulting firm. The methodology and parameters are stored within the system so that it can be replicated again. Data can be downloaded and used in other specialized software for statistical analysis if necessary.
- The data serves multiple purposes. This means that once the data is entered in the system, it can be used for different applications. A person can be part of an inventory of people, can be considered a stakeholder, can appear as a participant in meetings, and can be a beneficiary of company compensation, if applicable.
- The data is entered once and can be used to produce different reports. Before the system is developed and while the company is planning to collect data for the baseline, the nature, quality, and types of data will have to be established so that the company can compile reports for various entities. Data is entered once in the system and can be used to fill the requirements of various reports such as the Social Impact Assessment (SIA), the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), corporate reports, the GRI, EITI, lenders’ reports, legal requirements, and others.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that a social IMS must (i) efficiently implement and track a company’s business logic, (ii) ensure good interaction among different actors through shared data access capabilities, (iii) store and secure information in a common repository, and (iv) guarantee traceability of changes in the Information Management System.