The full agenda of talks and sessions
Monday, March 20
Tuesday, March 21
Registration + Coffee and Pastries
Opening Keynote - Bringing the Technology Revolution to Humanitarian Operations
An interactive conversation focusing on how humanitarian organizations and technology companies can work together to make humanitarian responses more effective, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of affected people.
Morning Breakout 1 – Improving Humanitarian Response through Intelligent Use of Social Media
More than a quarter of the world’s population—an estimated 2.3 billion people—are regular users of social media. Never before have so many people been able to access so much information, but the humanitarian sector has yet to fully understand the implications during humanitarian responses. To give one example, during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, information about how to prevent the spread of the disease was critical, but the effects and potential of social media were little understood by humanitarian responders. The humanitarian system needs a better understanding of how social media conversations are shaping the debates, decisions and actions of affected people. This session will discuss challenges and lessons learned from humanitarian uses of social media and propose the establishment of a channel for systematic exchange between the private and humanitarian sectors.
Morning Breakout 2 – ETC2020 Partnerships: Ensuring Crisis Connectivity for Affected Communities
The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster's 2020 strategy envisions providing connectivity not just to humanitarians in emergency response but also to affected populations. This requires a major scale up of services to cater for possibly millions of people. What are the benefits of ensuring that affected people have access to phone and data networks in crisis? How can the private sector partner with host Governments and humanitarian organisations to quickly ensure that affected people have access to information and communication networks following a disaster? What could be the major challenges and risks to achieving this outcome, and what would be some mitigation strategies? What practical steps should be taken if an emergency were declared tomorrow?
Morning Breakout 3 – Digital Payments: Moving Together from Principles to Action
Cash-based assistance is an increasingly significant part of emergency response, and it can be quicker, more efficient and more end-user friendly than traditional in-kind assistance. To get cash transfers to people affected by humanitarian emergencies more quickly and effectively, humanitarian actors need to work with and leverage the experiences of private sector partners and, in particular, draw from technological advances in the ICT sector. How can humanitarians access the best thinking on payments solutions, and how can tech and communications actors use their products and systems to reduce humanitarian suffering? In February 2016, USAID's Global Development Lab convened 24 humanitarian and financial inclusion partners to co-create the Barcelona Principles for Digital Payments in Humanitarian Response. In January 2017, 18 private sector companies and humanitarian organizations endorsed Principles on Public-Private Cooperation in Humanitarian Payments at the World Economic Forum. This session will explore how these principles are being put into practice and ask what more can we do to optimize collaborations and partnerships to serve affected people. We seek to leave this session with concrete and actionable ideas to improve humanitarian actors’ access to digital payments technology, and to ensure that the transfer of ideas, expertise and technology is optimized to serve people affected by crisis.
Lunch + Start-Up and Emerging Technology Exhibition
Afternoon Breakout 1 – Increasing Access to and Use of Digital Identification
Following a crisis, it is vital that affected people can securely and consistently identify themselves in order to access services and restore livelihoods. However, in many humanitarian emergencies, affected people lose access to critical identification documents, or they never had official identification to begin with. Lack of identification can make it exponentially more difficult to access emergency aid services. What is needed to increase the access to and use of digital identification? How can we scale existing solutions and avoid wasteful duplication and lost data from one-off projects? How do we work with Governments to strike a balance between meeting this urgent need and respecting national legislation? Panellists on this session will present a number of visions for how technology can be used to ensure that people affected by crisis have reliable and secure identification over the long term. We hope to leave this session with concrete commitments to leverage and scale existing solutions, standardize our approaches, and put the security and convenience of the beneficiary at the heart of our efforts.
Afternoon Breakout 2 – After the Emergency: Sustaining Connectivity for Affected People
Humanitarian organizations and ICT partners increasingly focus on ensuring that affected people and communities have access to voice and data connectivity during a crisis. But this raises an important question: what happens when the emergency ends and the humanitarian organizations go home? Do the benefits of delivering temporary broadband connectivity outweigh the costs of distorting local markets? Can crisis connectivity be an opportunity to improve local infrastructure, or are humanitarians inevitably going to conflict with Governments and local private sector actors? This interactive panel discussion will focus on bridging the humanitarian/development divide and suggest best practices for connectivity that can be sustained after an emergency.
Afternoon Breakout 3 – Climbing the Tower of Babel: Eliminating the Language Barrier in Crisis Response
Aliens have arrived and no one knows what they want or how to work with them. Call in the linguist! That may have been the premise of the recent Hollywood blockbuster Arrival, but it is not dissimilar to the situation that humanitarians and affected people often face: a language barrier reducing communications and affecting the overall effectiveness of the response. In this session, we will explore the problem and exciting new technologies in voice, machine learning, accessibility to information and community engagement to improve true communications. We will ask and try to answer the following: How do we listen to all voices in a crisis, regardless of language? Should we be focused on communications and content from affected communities, not the other way around? Is our content actually understood by people who need it? Is translation enough, and does it matter?
Networking Break + Start-Up and Emerging Technology Exhibition
Day One Summary and Next Steps
Session leaders from each breakout will present five-minute summaries of the key findings and next steps from their sessions.
Moderator: Kareem Elbayar
Afternoon Keynote – The Power of Strategic Partnerships: Scaling Humanitarian ICT Solutions
Nearly ten years ago, Ushahidi became the initial model for data collection, visualization and interactive mapping for the humanitarian sector. Thanks to a unique partnership and early-stage investment by the Cisco Foundation, Ushahidi has been able to scale its platform globally and continue to innovate in the sector. In an open conversation, Ushahidi and Cisco will look back at how humanitarian ICT solutions have evolved in the past decade, consider current gaps, and suggest ways to scale humanitairan ICT solutions in the future.
Opening Dinner and Reception
Wednesday, March 22
Registration + Coffee and Pastries
Day One Recap and Day Two Outlook
Moderator: Daniel Couture
Morning Keynote – The Future of Corporate Social Responsibility
What will collaboration between humanitarians and the private sector look like in 2020 and beyond? Join founding members of #ImpactCloud—an alliance of cloud-technology companies working with humanitarian organizations—in an interactive discussion focusing on new-generation CSR and the business case for private sector engagement with humanitarians. The panel will also explore case studies of technology improving humanitarian operations and empowering affected people in the field today and in the future.
Start-Up and Emerging Technology Shark Tank
The top vote recipients from yesterday’s Start-Up and Emerging Technology Exhibition will present their products to the plenary and receive feedback from the members of the #ImpactCloud alliance.
Morning Breakout 1 – Mobile Phones as a Platform for Aid: Bridging the Gender Gap and the Digital Divide
The spread of mobile phones is enabling people to reach out to each other across previously impenetrable divides. Humanitarian organizations are therefore increasingly leveraging mobile technology to provide information to, and receive feedback from, affected people. However, often the people most at risk, such as women and children, are the least likely to have access to mobile technology. A recent Harvard Humanitarian Initiative study among Syrian refugees showed that women have significantly less access to mobile phones as compared to men and reduced access is correlated with a higher probability of depression. How can humanitarians and the private sector work together in addressing this gender gap and digital divide?
Morning Breakout 2 – Collecting and Analysing Data to Improve Humanitarian Response
Humanitarian organizations are under increasing pressure to collect community feedback and other data points to continuously improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and relevance of humanitarian programmes. How can humanitarian organizations partner with ICT companies to collect and analyse data in a timely and efficient fashion?
Morning Breakout 3 – Towards Common Humanitarian Standards for the Use of ICTs
In a modern humanitarian response, success often depends on the use and deployment of ICTs. However, while the humanitarian community has general protection principles and standards, there is currently no comprehensive guidance on the use of ICTs and the information they generate. ICT solutions in emergency settings require ethical standards so that they can be truly deployed in a humanitarian way. How can humanitarians and the private sector work together in agreeing on common humanitarian standards for the use of ICTs in emergencies, and what should these be?
Lunch + Sponsors Exhibition
Afternoon Breakout 1 – Establishing and Expanding Digital Payment Infrastructure
How do we reach people in contexts where digital infrastructure is lacking? How can we transpose solutions developed in northern California to northern Cameroon? How can we ensure that where we engage we are leaving a permanent legacy of greater connectedness and financial inclusion? Perhaps the best way to increase the use of digital distribution of cash assistance today is through the expansion of existing payment infrastructure to countries that lack such infrastructure. Digital payment networks, such as those that support wire transfers and credit card transactions, do not exist in many countries affected by humanitarian crises. In other countries, fees for such transactions are prohibitively expensive. How do we operate in contexts where infrastructure is lacking, and can humanitarian and ICT partners incentivize the establishment of new payment networks and the expansion of existing networks? We will hear from panellists working in some of the most challenging contexts on earth, both those using technology to substitute for digital infrastructure where it does not exist, and those seeking to use their interventions to strengthen digital infrastructure over the long term. We seek to leave this session with a clearer picture of how to flex tools and technologies to address limited-infrastructure contexts, and what we can do to ensure our engagement incentivizes the strengthening of digital infrastructure to serve the world’s poorest and most remote communities.
Afternoon Breakout 2 – Operationalizing the Humanitarian and Crisis Connectivity Charters
The satellite industry’s Crisis Connectivity Charter and the mobile industry’s Humanitarian Connectivity Charter are sets of commitments from private sector signatories to enhance connectivity in times of crisis, facilitating communications between and across all those responding to humanitarian emergencies, including affected communities. What does it take to consolidate the industry around specific and predictable deliverables to support humanitarians in their operations, and how can these industry-led charters be activated?
Afternoon Breakout 3 – Increasing Data Literacy through the Humanitarian Data Fellows Programme
More and more data is being collected in humanitarian operations, but is it being used effectively? Early warning, trends analysis, beneficiary feedback and other important opportunities to improve humanitarian operations may be missed because humanitarian organizations lack data-analysis capacity. This interactive, small-group workshop will support the establishment of the Humanitarian Data Fellows Programme being launched through the Centre for Humanitarian Data in The Hague later this year. Academic and technology sector partners will work together with humanitarian organizations to consider the requirements and design of this programme to increase data literacy for humanitarian organizations.
Networking Break + Sponsors Exhibition
Closing Keynote 1 – Adventures in Humanitarian Technology
From crisis mapping to robotics, by way of big data, digital humanitarianism, and artificial intelligence. Dr. Patrick Meier takes us on a personal journey marked with setbacks, failures, surprises, and the occasional albeit accidental success. As we reach the present day, we consider the rise of intelligent and autonomous systems: how we chose to respond to this emerging technology will speak volumes about how far we've come (or not) since the early days of humanitarian technology. Are we empowering affected people with appropriate robotics solutions? Are we taking advantage of data generated by robotics? Are we doing enough to safeguard the privacy of affected peoples? Are we engaging appropriately with local communities when introducing robotics solutions? The answers to these questions will provide us with a honest report card on whether we're passing or failing our latest test as humanitarians.
Speaker: Patrick Meier
Closing Keynote 2 – Bringing Connectivity to Refugee and Displaced Persons Camps
In our last keynote of the conference, executives from UNHCR, Google, and O3b Networks will present an innovative new partnership to bring connectivity to refugees in one camp in Chad. We will hear what the partners hope to accomplish and how their work can inform efforts to ensure that everyone is connected in the humanitarian response of the future.
Closing Remarks and Next Steps
In this final session, we hear summaries of today’s sessions and discuss next steps following the conclusion of the 2017 Humanitarian ICT Forum.
Speaker: Gwi-Yeop Son