by Robin Schofield and Jennifer Johnson
with Juliet Sander and Khatuna Giorgadze
How do new technologies impact coordination and information management with respect to providing aid in the aftermath of disasters?
International agencies, governments and many NGOs have long enjoyed access to the latest technologies; however, this support has largely allowed for incremental (rather than transformational) improvements in efficacy and impact.
Nevertheless, with the proliferation of new technologies throughout the developed and developing world (especially affordable access to mobile devices), both survivors of disasters and private donors now have access to tools that can improve the effectiveness of coordination and information management–and ultimately, aid delivery.
We see new technologies enabling survivors to move from their current position at the end of an organized assistance supply chain, to a position at the center of a highly dynamic and fluid market system that utilizes mobile device-based electronic commerce whenever possible.
While there will always be a role for rescue, immediate services and direct provisions to the most vulnerable groups that new technologies will impact only marginally, we believe we are in the midst of a sea change in the way humanitarian aid is resourced and distributed.
Several key new technologies are now in the hands of those affected by disasters as well as those seeking to provide aid. We believe it is incumbent upon the international humanitarian community to take advantage of this more balanced distribution of new technologies.
Going forward, the challenge is not one of new technologies simply allowing the aid and development community to do things better. Going forward, the challenge is one of doing things differently.