what the humanitarian future might look like
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Here is What the Humanitarian Future Might Look Like

New technologies have been changing the world for centuries. Today, technology is changing at a faster pace than ever. And that means a lot of new trends for the humanitarian future. We’ve covered some of the top trends in humanitarian tech over the past few months. Together, they will undoubtedly alter the global development and aid sectors. So here is an overview of what the humanitarian future might look like.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

Mobile technologies

Cellphones have changed the way we communicate. But they can also be of great help in the humanitarian field. Of course, merely helping to stay in touch has already accelerated the efficiency and safety of humanitarian work.

However, mobile technologies also allow for SMS campaigns, which can help to raise awareness in large populations for cheap. They allow for better information flow between project teams and project participants. In emergencies, they can support digital cash transfers, which in turn stimulate local economies and provide access to basic needs.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of mobile technologies.

Satellite and mapping

Satellites have two principal uses in humanitarian work – communications and mapping. When other types of communication networks are down, satellites tend to persist. These satellites allow humanitarians to stay in touch and maintain a flow of information during natural disasters and in conflict zones.

Satellite imaging is also beneficial for the aid sector. It allows humanitarian needs mapping by taking satellite photos of areas that are otherwise hard to access. Together with geographic information systems, satellite imaging allows to better target and deliver aid.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of satellite and mapping.


Telecommuting has improved the quality of life and work for many people. In global development and humanitarian aid, telecommuting plays a considerable role. Since many organizations are international, it reduces entry barriers for specialized professionals. It also increases the pool of humanitarian resources and reduces the cost of travel.

Many roles can use telecommuting. Coordinators, managers, communications specialists, researchers, subject-matter experts, data analysts are just a few telecommuting jobs. Telemedicine is also gaining importance in the humanitarian field.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of telecommuting.

Data for good

The world produces vast amounts of data every day. This data can help to improve the quality and efficiency of humanitarian and global development work. It allows predicting patterns to enhance disaster preparedness. In a crisis, data can also help to map real-time needs and actions.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of data for good.

Biometric data

One type of data that is particularly important for the humanitarian sector is biometric data. It allows for digital identification, which is vital in settings such as refugee camps or with displaced populations.

Biometric identification can help to speed up the delivery of aid and to prevent fraud related to the distribution of cash and services. However, several ethical issues arise when it comes to the collection of biometric data in vulnerable populations.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of biometric data.


Robots have rapidly replaced many jobs that were previously done by people. In some fields, this is a threat to workers. But in the humanitarian area, it’s a relief. Robots can go where aid workers can’t, providing safety and saving lives.

For example, robots can access hardship zones and participate in rescue missions. They can provide live streaming of hard-to-access areas and for a preliminary assessment. Further, robots can help to define areas in post-conflict zones.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of robots.


Humanitarians widely use crewless aerial vehicles, or drones, in the field. Drones are a type of robot that helps with several issues. Drones can provide disaster relief and rescue and aid delivery to areas with no road access. They are also able to collect images for assessment, monitoring, and evaluation.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of drones.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence brings together data and robotics. It can process large amounts of data quickly, allowing for faster analysis and better decision-making processes. Artificial intelligence can also allow for better robotics, for example, companion robots in understaffed areas.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of artificial intelligence.


Fraud and corruption are, unfortunately, two issues relevant to the global development field. However, blockchain can significantly reduce the lack of transparency in the field. It allows for unmodifiable transactions; which users store on multiple networks at the same time. This means that no one can adjust cash transfers, smart contracts, and other agreements without leaving a trace.

Learn more about the humanitarian future of blockchain.

Limits to humanitarian tech

Of course, there are limitations to the use of humanitarian technologies. For example, robots and data lack human compassion to make decisions. Without face-to-face negotiations, it might be hard to arrive at a consensus. Meanwhile, hard data cannot provide a nuanced evaluation of a situation.

But beyond the human factor, technology also comes with new issues in privacy, security, ethics, and governance. It is safe to say that we should expect new policies and unforeseen matters when it comes to emerging technologies in the sector.

Learn more about the limits of tech in humanitarian work.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

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