@readycat could not agree more! And even more than that, we're talking about helping communities talk to each other and mobilise their own forms of assistance, which increasingly don't come from us. One major impact of technology, fr example, has been to empower the diaspora. In some countries they are more powerful than all the aid responders put together (somalia: official aid 1.3 billion USD - estimated remittances - 2.0 billion USD)
@Jacob and this is why the community-based volunteers in the Red Cross Red Crescent are our greatest asset.
Yes, @imogenwall, diasporas can play a key role in response efforts; this was the case in Haiti, with diaspora Haitians translating incoming/outgoing texts from the ground.
We are looking at a world in which telcos and media are both providers of a vital humanitarian service (and both, incidentally, are usually private sector - so we need to figure out how to work with them better at country level) and in which providers of aid are not just international responders, but diasporas, local industry etc. We are also looking whole new kinds of responders such as the volunteer and tech communities. @jacobkorenblum diasporas did a whole lot more than that in Haiti!
Good point @LibbyPowell (Radar): what about verification? Crisis Mappers Network has been working on that. What do others think?
@imogen. Indeed you need to think of all these aspects. We have established a roster that allows Internews to quickly assemble groundbreaking response teams that deliver professional, timely, reliable and well-targeted humanitarian communication solutions. There is a need for capacity building as it is provided by infoasaid
Any thoughts on what donors can do to push this forwward?
Beyond donor initiative, I think the real challenge is coordination between mobile networks, donors & aid providers.
@Astrid they can require a component of communication with communities in all programmes they fund...
@readycat yes indeed. And The Listening Project. The message that communication is a valuable process, not just a means of transferring information, is essential. Communication is how you build relationships and trust. That's why you can't take people out of application of any tech tool (and if you do it fails).
At #MWC2013 @imogenwall & I spoke about great examples of where this coordination between networks, funders, & providers is happening (in the Philippines, for example)--good "best practices" which can be replicated in other regions.
It is a great way to ensure the quality of programme delivery and accountability -it is actually to the donor's advantage.
@Jacob. Yes. Huge challenge. A real impediment to communication between humanitarian responders relates to how ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ humanitarian actors work together. There are certainly barriers to communication and collaboration between different stakeholder groups, and this pertains even to UN agencies and NGOs. When you add local media, media assistance, and telcos into the mix there can be conflicting ethical and operational imperatives that act as barriers to communication and collaboration.
@jacob yes, could not agree more. This is about how do we partner effectively. in New York one of the key representatives of the satellite industry (vsat) who was presenting said: stop treating us like vendors. That's not a partnership. He's right.
@Vsevolod Megaphones are useful in the immediate aftermath but there is a need to establish 2-way communication between the disaster-affected communities and the humanitarian community.
Right...this is, in some regard, a new kind of "public-private partnership"...and one that's critical in a crisis zone.
A real issue is how all of this work is funded. And I'm talking here in general terms. In terms of ‘traditional’ humanitarian responders – ie, implementing aid agencies – one thing to note is that they operate within a competitive funding environment. Competition for humanitarian market share and the need to maintain a high profile in order to secure funding influences decision making can influence the degree to which organisations share information and even communicate honestly with affected populations. This situation can be aggravated by the impact of uneven media coverage of disasters.
We've seen great responses from networks in disaster circumstances--Palestine's mobile networks worked with us to allow free SMS send-out/receipt for aid providers during the recent Gaza conflict.
How do we work with big data? that's about partnerships (see Flowminder in Haiti)? How do we restore telco and internet networks? That's about partnerships with the private sector, as they are the service providers. How do we prep to mitigate the impact of crises on networks? that means partnering on preparedness issues. It's not just about money. It's about shared resources (data, capacity, skills, technology), shared visions, shared work on the ground.
@jacob yes this is a totally new way of thinking about humanitarian response, and about public private sector partnerships, and about connectivity and information and comms as aid
@Rachel Houghton: Definitely. Competition between aid providers can often undermine cooperation when it's needed most. This is a key challenge, and one that we should all be invested in resolving!
@ChristianLambe - stop seeing communication as an "add on"