Humanitarian Future - Mobile
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Humanitarian Future – Mobile

Technology is changing every day. But sometimes, true and tested humanitarian tech can be the most useful in the field. The aid sector has been using mobile technology for some time now. And it will continue to be an essential tool for humanitarian future and global development.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

Staying in touch

One of the essential uses of mobile technology in the aid sector is to keep in touch. Disasters often cause blackouts. Landlines stop working. And web servers lose connection. Meanwhile, satellite towers may remain more reliable than all of the above.

As such, in a crisis, the use of mobile phones comes handy. It allows humanitarians to communicate. Those affected by the disaster can also get in touch with their loved ones or report their whereabouts.

Also, mobile data can allow people to turn their phones into mobile hotspots. This way, multiple people can access the internet and find out what’s happening. They can get valuable information and inform others of the situation on the ground.

Information flow

Similarly, mobile technology helps to provide information, both during disasters or for development projects. Cell phones have incredibly high rates of market penetration all over the world. So, it’s faster, cheaper, and more reliable to use SMS-based notifications to raise awareness and share information.

For example, humanitarian workers can send text messages warning civilians about potential danger. They can also send critical updates about a situation. Further, they can raise awareness about specific health issues. And global development projects can even support participants by having SMS-based conversations.

Digital cash transfers

However, information is not the only thing that mobile humanitarian tech can help with. Humanitarians can also facilitate cash transfers through mobile apps. It’s cheaper, faster, more efficient, and people trust it more than banks.

This helps people who are recovering from a disaster to purchase goods, which in turn improves the local economy.

Digital identity

Another way mobile technology is helpful is to generate digital identity. People can both create digital identities and authenticate their identification. For example, a refugee may not have his or her documents. Instead, they use a mobile device to register for services or in a database. This way, organizations can better serve them in the refugee process.

Data collection and analysis

Of course, the use of mobile devices also helps organizations to track their actions. They allow registering people’s movements and locations. Aid workers can see where disasters are happening and the specific places they need to go to. They can also record data on the delivery of goods and services.

Once this data is available, humanitarians can improve their programs with a strong evidence base.

You also might like to read our article: Data for Good

Issues with mobile technology

Unfortunately, mobile technology does run into some problems. SMS-based approaches are generally very successful. But in some communities, they may not be appropriate. The participants may not see an SMS as something essential to follow. They may also feel uncomfortable sharing information for fear of safety and security.

In terms of digital authentication and data collection, there is always the concern of data misuse. The more sensitive data organization collect, the higher are the risks. That’s because it is easy to misuse data for commercial or political purposes.

Having said this, when organizations use mobile technology responsibly and in relevant contexts, it can be a potent humanitarian tool.

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