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Disrupting Humanitarian Response


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Opening keynote at #HumTech2016 conference

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Disrupting Humanitarian Response

  2. 2. My background • NetHope – Emergency Response Director 2011-2015 • ICE-SAR – Former team leader Icelandic USARTEAM • UNDAC – Member since 2005 • Author –The Crisis Leader • 25+ years in Disaster Management • 35+ years in ICT • Trusted advisor to governments in use of ICT in disaster response
  3. 3. Changes observed over the past decade • Improvements in field based connectivity • Move away from paper based data collection • Maps are no longer rough sketch on a piece of paper • Social media – a tool for awareness building and response • The rise of digital volunteers • Humanitarian hackathons • Increased interest by academia in humanitarian response
  4. 4. Challenges observed over the past decade • Better field based connectivity led to centralization of response • A myriad of mobile data collection system with no standards in place • Humanitarian responders don’t know how to ask for actionable maps • Awareness building through social media eating up bandwidth • We have no clue how to listen to what affected people are saying on social media • Only a handful of response organizations know how to leverage digital volunteers effectively and digital volunteers still creating datasets that nobody asked for • Humanitarian hackathons leave everyone feeling like they did some good, but very few solutions come out of them. • Lack of practical academic research in this space.
  5. 5. DISRUPTION The Need for Change
  6. 6. Disruption is happening already • Explosive growth in mobile phone ownership • Resilience of mobile networks • Social networks • Occupy movement • Social entrepreneurship • Impact Investment
  7. 7. DISRUPTION IS HAPPENING But not for us…
  8. 8. Wikinomics (2006) • With the costs of communicating dramatically dropping, firms who do not change their current structures will perish. • Companies who utilize mass collaboration will dominate their respective markets. • We cannot solve the problems of the information age using institutions of the industrial age
  9. 9. Philanthropy • A century old mechanism for sharing your wealth with those in need • Non-sustainable model • Demand grossly out ways the availability • High administrative cost associated with grant writing, M&E, and fundraising
  10. 10. International Humanitarian Response • Built around the concept of lack of local capacity to respond • Built around a top-down approach to response • Distribution of material and resources from donor countries • Highly political system where competition is fierce and collaboration is scarce • Annual $16B-24B market
  11. 11. Change is hard when… • …your own role/power is affected by it • …money is involved • …you have a hard time thinking outside the box • …bureaucracy is stronger than progress • …you realize you are an outdated dinosaur fighting to stay in power • …your idea of innovation simply leads to pilotitis
  12. 12. We need to think outside the box • How do we truly empower affected communities to self-organize? • How do we leverage digital aid to address most of the need? • How do we perform needs assessment bottom up, not top down? • How do we supplement and strengthen local capacity instead of bulldozing over it? • How do we harness the passion within companies, movements, individuals to solve problems? • How do we move from an unsustainable, non-scalable approaches towards self-sustainable, replicable, and truly scalable models?
  13. 13. New premises to work from • We will soon be able to restore mobile connectivity in <24 hours • Large portion of the population worldwide will soon have smartphones • Disaster prone countries will continue to build up their own national capacity to respond • Over 80% of current aid will become digital in nature – driven by mobile money becoming available worldwide • Government and philanthropical funding will reduce in size due to politics and new ways of thinking by millennial generation
  14. 14. Learning from disruption in other fields • We need to focus on innovation that leads to disruption • We need to provide funding models that are tolerant to failure • We need to built an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurial thinking in the humanitarian space • We need to focus on sustainable business models
  15. 15. This is why I moved to Silicon Valley… • To learn about disruption in the hub of innovation • To build up the networks required to drive disruption into the humanitarian space • To understand how we can adapt the venture capital model of financing to humanitarian response • To build up an army of disrupters
  16. 16. What have I learned so far… • EvenVCs are interested in seeing disruption in this space • SiliconValley is built on the concept of giving back • True innovation comes when you understand the fundamental problem that the user needs to resolve • Solutions we create for humanitarian response must have daily use cases for them to truly be used in times of need
  17. 17. Do you have WiFi? Information as a life line
  18. 18. ROGER von OECH