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Humanitarian Future – Data for Good

The humanitarian sector has changed drastically in the last few decades. Access to remote places has become much easier with innovation in travel and reduced costs. The internet revolutionized the way we can help others.

Today, innovation in technology can continue to improve humanitarian aid. While nothing can replace human compassion, technology can make the response more efficient and effective. Data analysis is one of the tools that we can use to better humanitarian aid.

Data for Good Movement 

The data for good movement encourages using data and technology to help people. Various organizations are part of this movement. Among them, humanitarian organizations that are utilizing data to help save lives.

However, these are not the only institutions joining the data for good movement. There are plenty of others. For example, not-for-profit organizations are creating shareable data platforms that are open source.

Meanwhile, even private companies are becoming more open about data sharing. Besides, social enterprises are looking for innovative ways to utilize data in humanitarian response and global development.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

What Can Humanitarians Do with Data?

There are several ways in which data can contribute to improving humanitarian aid. This applies to all phases of humanitarian response: prevention and preparedness, disaster and conflict response, and evaluation and follow-up.

Humanitarians can use data to improve disaster preparedness and prevent negative impacts of natural disasters. For example, by mapping the impact of past disasters, we can better understand the possible effects of an upcoming catastrophe. This can also help governments to make better-informed decisions regarding disaster preparedness.

When it comes to response, data analysis is essential. Let’s say there was an earthquake. Real-time data can provide rescue teams with much-needed information on where help is needed. It can also prevent further loss of life by showing areas where it is still dangerous.

Of course, data is also essential for monitoring and evaluation. By collecting data post-response, we can see the effectiveness of humanitarian actions. Over time, it is possible to improve activities and response, based on evidence from the data. This can also help to save money in the long-term.

Challenges of Humanitarian Data

Like most new technologies, data also presents some potential challenges. Because it is such a new field, it can be difficult to predict the extent of the issues data can generate in humanitarian aid.

However, some issues are already clear. For example, data privacy and protection is one of the concerns. While it is essential to protect data, it is also very costly. Also, in conflict zones, data protection can become a question of putting lives at risk if not correctly done.

While data can have a positive impact on operations, there can also be drawbacks. There is so much data available that it is sometimes difficult to know what to do with and how to use it. Clear planning on data collection and use is essential for mitigating the waste of valuable resources.

Also, data is generating a new way of implementation. It means that projects have unique structures and new staff. Sometimes there is slow uptake on utilizing data and mistrust in technology and innovation. Further, any mistakes are too costly, as humanitarians work with human lives.

As a result, organizations are starting to work on regulations on the use of data. For example, the United Nations Population Fund published the Guidelines on Data Issues in Humanitarian Crisis Situations.

Data-Driven Humanitarian Projects 

Digital Humanitarian Network

The network provides a bridge between humanitarian organizations and skilled volunteers in data and other technologies. When disaster strikes, they can rapidly activate digital humanitarians. Digital Humanitarian teams quickly analyze data and provide humanitarians with information for evidence-based decision making.   

1. Peace Tech Lab

Peace Tech Lab combines innovative technology with local efforts to promote peace in areas affected by conflict. This includes six different lines of work. For example, Peace Tech combats online hate speech. The organization also supports entrepreneurs working on technology for peace.  

2. Data Kind

Data Kind brings together data scientists and organizations working for social good. They are a catalyst for their collaboration. Data Kind creates a space where data can be applied to improving programs, scaling up response, and making the world a better place.  

3. Humanitarian Data Exchange

Need humanitarian data? The Humanitarian Data Exchange is the place where you can find it! The open source website doesn’t only provide data but also allows anyone to upload it. Also, there are tools for data visualization and data analysis.

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